Second Avenue Subway: Route 132-A

From nycsubway.org

The following is an excerpt from a report published by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. The text below is in the public domain.


34th Street to 126th Street, Manhattan
August, 1971

Urban Mass Transportation Administration
Washington, D.C., 20590


This Draft Environmental Statement relates to an application by the City of New York, acting by the New York City Transit Authority, for a grant of two-thirds of the cost of constructing and equipping an underground rapid transit railroad route in the City of New York along Second Avenue from 34th Street to 126th Street in the Borough of Manhattan. The total cost of the project is $381,000,000. The application is for a grant of two-thirds of the cost or $254,000,000.

A public hearing, after due publication of notice, was held on September 15, 1971 at which approximately 40 persons and organizations presented testimony. No witnesses appeared in objection to the construction of the project. On the contrary, there were a substantial number of witnesses, including civic, community and business organizations, who emphasized the need for the project's early completion.

Many community representatives requested that a station, in addition to those already proposed, be constructed in the vicinity of 96th Street and Second Avenue, principally to serve the Metropolitan Hospital which provides medical service to large numbers of low-income patients.

After considering the testimony presented at the hearing, the New York City Transit Authority adopted a resolution providing for the construction of a station at 96th Street at a cost of approximately $10,000,000. The Draft Environmental Statement of New York, acting by the New York City Transit Authority, is hereto annexed as Appendix A.

The need for the Second Avenue Subway line has been recognized in New York City for 40 years. The facility was not previously provided because of a lack of funds.

Present construction of the line has been approved by the Governor and the State Legislature, by the Mayor, the City Board of Estimate and the City Council. The State Legislature has appropriated $99,000,000 for this project.


The project proposes construction of a basic two-track line extending along Second Avenue from East 34th Street to East 126th Street in Manhattan, and includes a train interconnection with a crosstown line now under construction in East 63rd Street. Connections to this Project will be made at 34th Street to a new route extending south to lower Manhattan, and at 126th Street to a new route extending north into The Bronx, where a connection will be made to the existing Pelham Bay Park line and the existing Dyre Ayenue line.

In order to provide more reliable service for passengers, the route between 72nd Street and 48th Street will be constructed so as to provide four tracks.


Transit properties of the New York City Transit System are owned by the City of New York and are leased to and operated by the New York City Transit Authority. The transit system lies entirely within the limits of New York City.

Its rapid transit division has 726 miles of track - subway, surface and elevated, - over 240 miles of route in the Boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and The Bronx; 477 stations, and 7,000 passenger cars.

Over 1.2 billion passengers were carried in the 1970-71 year on the rapid transit lines.

Its surface division operates 2,380 passenger buses over 577 route miles in the five boroughs. In 1969-70, the bus lines carried 430 million passengers.

A subsidiary of the Transit Authority, the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transportation Operating Authority (MaBSTOA), operates an additional 1,960 buses over 329 route miles in Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens and carried 395 million passengers in the 1969-70 year.

There are only five privately owned bus companies remaining in the City of New York operating about 600 buses in Queens and Manhattan. The Port of New York Authority operates the PATH Railroad between Manhattan and points in New Jersey.

The Penn Central and the Long Island Railroad bring some 200,000 suburban commuters each day to terminals within the City from which most of them proceed to their destinations on the rapid transit and surface lines of the New York City Transit Authority and MaBSTOA.

About 100,000 suburban and inter-city bus passengers arrive daily at the two Port Authority bus terminals and are also carried to their final destinations on Transit Authority and MaBSTOA facilities.

In Queens and The Bronx several suburban bus lines bring 15,000 commuters daily to the terminals of the Transit Authority rapid transit lines in a "closed door" operation within the city limits.

The New York City Transit Authority subway and bus lines differ in function from the major suburban carriers in the region. The major function of the commuter rail and bus lines is to carry people from the suburban areas lying outside the City of New York to the rail and bus terminals in or close to the Central Business District and also to the subway terminals. The distribution of the suburban passengers throughout the City is then a function of the rapid transit and surface lines of the New York City Transit Authority and MaBSTOA, as part of its basic task of providing transportation within the City.

In addition to operating and maintaining the Transit System of the City of New York, the Transit Authority has the statutory responsibility for initiating plans for new rapid transit lines, extensions, improvements and betterments to the existing transit system and recommending construction of new facilities.

The City of New York, with almost eight million inhabitants, possesses a relatively restricted area toward which the labor force of the City and a large percentage of that of its neighbors travel each work-day morning and from which they return in the evening, and in which shoppers, seekers of amusements and visitors flock at all hours. In this area are concentrated the office skyscrapers which serve as headquarters for nearly all of America's great corporations; the center of the garment, fur, printing and other industries, most of the world's largest department stores and retail shopping centers; and the largest concentration of theatres, concert halls, restaurants, night clubs and hotels.

The Central Business District is in the area on which the regions economy rests. About a third of the Reguin's 6.7 million jobs are located in this nine-square-mile area. Of the 3,500,000 persons entering the District on a typical business day, 57 percent use the subway. Of the 850,000 persons entering during the morning peak hour (8 to 9 a.m.), about 75 percent arrive by subway.

Clearly, Manhattan's intricate web of business relations could not be maintained without the subway.

The total expansion and modernization program planned for the New York City TransitAuthority provides for additional trunk line capacity to reduce overcrowding on existing lines, as well as the extension of service to areas of the City that have developed since the last extensions of subway lines were built and which now have a great need for improved service. An integral part of the program is the upgrading of standards of service through the use high performance air-conditioned cars, improved standards of route alignments and better station designs.

Presently, severe overcrowding exists on the Lexington Avenue Line, the only trunk route on the east side of Manhattan. This four-tracked facility offers express and local service in Manhattan and carries traffic from five services in the Bronx. The continued growth in office space on the east side of Manhattan and continued population growth in the outlying areas of the Bronx served by this route make relief of overcrowding and additional capacity necessary.

The Second Avenue line is designed to provide this needed relief. The Second Avenue route itself provides a 60 per cent increase in potential subway capacity on the east side of Manhattan. A northward extension of this line into the Bronx (not part of this application) will permit the diversion of passengers from existing Bronx services into the Second Avenue line. The additional capacity and services made possible by the Second Avenue route will open up a new transit corridor in Manhattan and will result in improved service and less crowding on the Lexington Avenue line.

Coverdale and Colpitts, the Transit Authority traffic consultants on the Project, conclude that the Second Avenue Line is required "to relieve the intolerable congestion on the Lexington Avenue Line." The Lexington Avenue Line is over 50 years old and, except for a brief strike period, has operated 24 hours a day, every day, from its inception.

Although the project involves the construction of the Second Avenue Line only between 34th Street and 126th Street, the entire line ultimately to be constructed by the City will operate over two connections in The Bronx along the Dyre Avenue and Pelham Bay Lines and will be extended to the south to the southern tip of Manhattan Island to Whitehall Street.

It can be anticipated that the line will attract persons now using surface transportation either by private car or bus. The Transit Authority operates a bus line in Manhattan for the entire length of Second Avenue and the number of buses that operate along this line would be reduced to reflect any diversion of patronage from surface transportation to the new rapid transit line. The congestion of the Lexington Avenue Line now encourages passengers to use surface transportation either by bus or automobile. The extent to which such diversion will occur cannot now be measured but it seems clear that the cumulative effect of the diversion will have a favorable environmental impact from the reduction in the use of gasoline and diesel powered surface vehicles. Furthermore, the environment will benefit additionally through the reduction in surface congestion.

The beneficial environmental impacts of the project may be summarized as follows:

  1. The project will provide a reliable modern, high-capacity, high-speed underground rapid transit railroad necessary to relieve congestion on the Lexington Avenue subway.
  2. The project will provide needed and convenient accessibility to the east side of Manhattan. Large concentrations of office and business buildings and residences, hospitals and schools are located in this area.
  3. The project can be expected to reduce surface vehicle congestion.
  4. The project will reduce net vehicular exhaust emissions.



Construction of Route 132-A will mark the start of New York's long-awaited Second Avenue Subway.

This line has been approved by the Governor, the Mayor, the New York State Legislature, the New York City Board of Estimate and the City Council.

It will provide transportation that is vital to the economic and social well being of New York City.

It will make this transportation available where it is urgently needed.

By providing a new rapid transit route, and relieving overcrowding on existing lines, it will furnish easier, faster, more comfortable transportation for New Yorkers, and help reduce automobile congestion on the city's streets.

Underground and e1ectrically powered, it will add no internal combustion pollutants to the city's air.

It will spur the development and improvement of residential and business properties along its routes.

Description of Proposed Route

Route 132-A is a basic two-track line extending along Second Avenue from East 34th Street to East 126th Street in Manhattan, and includes a train interconnection with a crosstown line now under construction in East 63rd Street. Connections to Route 132-A will be made at 34th Street to a new route extending south to lower Manhattan, and at 126th Street to a new route extending north into The Bronx, where a connection will be made to the existing Pelham Bay Park line and the existing Dyre Avenue line.

The Second Avenue line will relieve the existing Lexington Avenue line. improve service on the existing Pelham Bay Park and Dyre Avenue lines and, by providing a direct access to the major office and residential centers on the east side of lower and midtown Manhattan, will decrease traveling time between the outer sections of The Bronx and Manhattan. It will also provide direct access to the East Side of Manhattan from Queens.

Discussion of Unavoidable Adverse Environmental Effects

No permanent adverse environmental effects are expected as a result of this project. During construction of the Second Avenue subway, local disturbances cannot be avoided. These, however, will be kept to a minimum.

Route 132-A will be underground for its entire 4.7 mile length. The methods of construction utilized will include cut and cover cover and tunneling. The cut-and-cover method will be used for constructing station mezzanines (which are close to the street surface), for constructing the portions of structure where there is a crevice in the rock profile (in the vicinity of 48th Street), and for constructing the portion of the route where the rock profile drops away sharply (north of 92nd Street). Cut-and-cover construction will require the temporary decking of portions of Second Avenue. This decking will be placed in off-peak hours. Provision will be made so that sufficient traffic capacity will be maintained along Second Avenue.

The remaining portions of the route will be constructed by tunneling methods, with construction shafts located at points yet to be determined.

Precautions and special efforts will be taken to minimize noise during construction, through the use of mufflers on equipment, special tools and construction methods. Detailed and comprehensive noise control specifications in the construction contracts will restrict and control the contractor so that the most modern noise abatement procedures will be followed.

The horizontal and vertical alignment of Route 132-A was selected to keep family and business relocation to a minimum. This has been successful, inasmuch as this route, which is almost five miles in length, will not require relocation of any families, and only one business relocation will be necessary. This relocation of a gas station on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and East 63rd Street cannot be avoided because this area must be used both as a construction and ventilation shaft and for a permanent ventilation superstructure.

Additionally, underground easements will be required under 13 properties in the vicinity of East 63rd Street and Second Avenue, for the portion of the subway connection to the 63rd Street line now under construction.

Analysis of Short-term and Long-term Enviromental Consequences

The Second Avenue line can carry over 50,000 passengers in the peak hours from northern Mnhattan and The Bronx. This is the equivalent of over eight lanes of highway capacity. It is expected that not only will this rail system reduce the number of cars required to take passengers from the outlying area to the central business district, but it will also relieve the overcrowding of the existing adjacent subway, such as the Lexington Avenue line. With the anticipated drop in use of automobiles into the central business district, there will be a corresponding decrease in the side effects of the auto, such as smog, congestion and noise.

The basic two-track line will be entirely underground for the entire extent of Route 132-A. Since it is electrically powered, it will not produce any air pollutants. Additionally, any noise that may be generated during operations should not be heard on the street above. The cars, and the equipment for powering these trains, are being designed to hold the noise and vibration effects to a minimum. The passengers will also receive the benefits of air-conditioned cars.

Experience shows that the city will benefit not only in the saving of time by millions of passengers in reaching the central business district, but that the real estate developing in the vicinity of Second Avenue will appreciate greatly.

Irreversible and Irretievable Commitment of Resources

Since no loss or other effect on natural resources is anticipated, there will be no irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources attributable to this project.

Possible Problems and Objections

No objections by Federal, State or local entities are expected as a result of this project.

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