The MTA is sticking to the Dec. 31 launch date for the Second Avenue subway despite lingering red flags.
Construction crews failed to complete key projects this past month, including the installation and testing of elevators and escalators as well as the testing of fire alarms inside subway stations, according to an update Wednesday from Kent Haggas, an independent engineer for the project.
“Systems testing remains our concern,” Haggas told the MTA’s Capital Project Oversight Committee. “Basically, the progress to date needs to be almost tripled on a weekly basis to give us confidence that we’ll finish everything by the end of December.”
As of Oct. 21, key tests were being completed at a rate of 14 per week over the past five weeks. In order to finish testings by mid-December, crews will need to complete an average of more than 40 tests per week.
Progress at the 86th Street station, which had previously been in good standing, lagged this month. Crews were expected to install the final three of 13 escalators in the station by Oct. 10, but they missed that mark. The station now joins 72nd Street in posing complications in a launch service by the end of 2016.
Despite Haggas’ warnings, he noted that, since he compiled his report last week, he had seen a “major increase” in systems testing. “That needs to be kept up,” he said.
MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said the agency remains committed to opening the line before the end of the year. There have been signs of hope; the agency began running test trains for crew training on Second Avenue tracks on Oct. 17.
“There’s still a ways to go,” he said, “and we’re still hopeful for Dec. 31.”
Andrew Albert, an MTA board member, was cautiously optimistic that the agency will open the $4.4 billion first phase of the new subway line on time and said it’s clear that it’s “making every effort” to do so.
“We shall see,” he said.