Rendering of the Second Avenue Subway's planned 125th Street entrance,...

Rendering of the Second Avenue Subway's planned 125th Street entrance, released in January. On Tuesday, officials said construction work had stopped. Credit: MTA

The MTA has ordered contractors to stop work on its $7 billion Second Avenue Subway project, saying it can’t move ahead without the funding that was expected from congestion pricing, transit officials said Tuesday.

Answering questions from reporters at a Manhattan press event, Metropolitan Transportation Authority construction and development chief Jamie Torres Springer disclosed the first major casualty of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent decision to pull the plug on the MTA’s congestion pricing program, which was originally set to take effect June 30.

The plan would have charged most vehicles $15 for driving below 60th Street in Manhattan. Supporters said the policy would have reduced traffic in the city, improved air quality and generated needed funding for transit infrastructure investments.

Without the revenue the MTA was counting on from the new tolls, Torres-Springer said, “there are a lot of projects that we will not be able to build.” Instead, Torres-Springer said, the MTA will have to focus on “state-of-good-repair” projects — an industry term for basic infrastructure maintenance.

“We have in a couple of cases ordered ‘stop work’ orders on projects that do not strictly meet that state-of-good-repair requirement. We’ll provide more information on that next week. But, yes, we have stopped work on the Second Avenue Subway,” Torres-Springer said.

In an interview with Spectrum News NY1, Hochul said the postponement of congestion pricing "does not mean that we will not find funding for the Second Avenue Subway."

After nearly a century of planning, the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway was completed in 2017 at a cost of around $4.3 billion.

The second phase of the project would extend the line, which currently ends at 96th Street, to 125th Street in Harlem, with connections to the Lexington Avenue subway line and to Metro-North. Work began earlier this year with a $182 million utility relocation effort.

On June 5 — three weeks out from the planned start date of the MTA’s Central Business District Tolling Program — Hochul ordered an “indefinite pause” on the plan, citing concerns about affordability and the potential for the new tolls to slow New York’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

The MTA planned to use the projected $1 billion in annual toll revenue to support bonds that would have paid for $15 billion in capital projects.

Hochul has vowed to come up with an alternative funding source to keep the MTA’s capital program on track, but has not identified where that money would come from. Meanwhile, the MTA has said it has no choice but to “shrink” its capital budget.

The governor Tuesday reiterated her promise to "finding a path for an alternative funding source," and noted that even if congestion pricing did go ahead as planned, the MTA wouldn't have seen its first $1 billion in toll revenue anytime soon.

"So, I'm just saying, let's dial down the temperature. This is a pause," said Hochul, adding that her "commitment is strong" to move ahead with the MTA's planned capital projects, despite "everybody's desire to paint the doomsday scenario."

The MTA’s announcement fueled pleas by congestion pricing supporters for Hochul to reconsider her decision.

“We have said from the moment Gov. Hochul postponed congestion pricing that the future of New York City as we know it is in danger,” Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, a trade group, said in a statement. “Today’s actions by the MTA to stop work on the Second Avenue Subway expansion sadly — and maddeningly — proves that point.”

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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