New private development on the far West Side may be at a standstill amid the recession, but public investment is tunneling ahead. The mayor’s office put out an announcement Monday morning, with accompanying video below, that the machines digging the tunnels for the new 1.5-mile extension of the No. 7 line have reached the cavern for the station on West 34th Street.
The extension brings the No. 7 line from Times Square to the base of the Javits Center at 11th Avenue, and it was intended to help spur development throughout the far West Side (and to bring spectators to the Olympic and Jets Stadium, back when the line was approved in 2005).
The announcement is no major milestone, but does serve as a reminder that the project is actually moving forward, even as almost all the so-called underutilized lots that were expected to sprout office buildings and condo towers overhead remain as parking lots or auto shops.
The line is slated for completion in 2013 or so, and it was initially slated to have two stations—the one at 34th Street and the other at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. The latter was removed for cost reasons in 2007, meaning the city is now spending $2 billion for a line extension with just one stop. The construction industry has been pushing the city and M.T.A. to add the second stop back in ever since (it was previously estimated to cost another $500 million), and recently the Real Estate Board of New York has been making more noise about the lack of logic in omitting the stop. The cost and disruption of adding a second station after the tunnels are all built and sealed up is considered so high as to be prohibitive.