The Second Avenue subway is on to its next stop.
While there are no actual trains or stations yet, the tunnel that will connect 96th and 63rd St. was completed Thursday as a 485-ton, 450-foot-long tunnel boring machine pulverized its way through the remaining rock at the Lexington Ave.—63rd St. station as MTA officials and construction workers looked on.
MTA head Jay Walder called the progress “fantastic.”
“This is the No. 1-rated transit project in the entire country,” he said minutes after the drilling ended, adding, “it’s about 50 years overdue.” When asked about the project’s $4.45 billion price tag, Walder said, “Yes, it’s worth it.”
The line will eventually run from 125th Street to the Financial District.
While the Federal Transit Administration says the project is over budget and behind schedule, suggesting $400 million in extra costs and an opening date of one year later than the MTA plans for, Michael Horodniceanu, the MTA’s head of capital construction, says the first leg will open in December 2016 — on time and on budget.
“I worry every day. I’m paid to worry,” Horodniceanu admitted Thursday, but he said there is “no doubt in my mind that we’ll deliver that. We’re right now totally on schedule.”
“We believe that a lot of the hard work is behind us,” he said, adding that construction was about 60% done.
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja