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Feds keeping hope alive on funding for Second Ave. subway, other MTA projects

Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg speaks as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg listens during an event at the Department of Transportation on March 11, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg are pictured in Washington in March. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The federal government is still seeking to salvage their portion of the funding for MTA projects like the — despite the loss of local matching funds following Gov. Hochul’s abrupt end to congestion pricing.

U.S. Department of Transportation — a former MTA board member and a de Blasio-era New York City DOT commissioner — told reporters Monday that her office remained dedicated to the Second Ave. subway expansion and other federally funded MTA projects, and was working with state officials to salvage them.

“We never want to see a great project, something like , not happen,” Trottenberg said.

“Our secretary [Pete Buttigieg] has made the pledge that we want to keep our commitments to all the projects that we had agreed to do with the MTA,” she said. “Obviously, we’re working through with them now how the financing is going to work.

“We don’t necessarily have clear answers on everything yet, but you have certainly a commitment from USDOT and the federal government to work closely with New York to try to find the best solution,” she added.

Trottenberg, who said she had not known about ahead of time, confirmed that the federal government remained ready and willing to sign off on the plan should the governor’s administration end the pause.

A section of Phase Two of the Second Ave. Subway near E112th St.
Barry Williams for ˵Ӱ
A section of phase two of the Second Ave. subway near E. 112th St. in Manhattan. (Barry Williams for ˵Ӱ)

The $7.7 billion Second Ave. subway phase two project would extend the existing Q-train line up from E. 96th St. and Second Ave. to the current No. 4, 5 and 6 train station at E. 125th St. and Lexington Ave, building two new stations along the way and bringing rapid transit to east Harlem for the first time in roughly 75 years.

The federal government had promised the MTA $3.4 billion toward the project if the agency could pony up it’s own portion — $4.3 billion in so-called “local match” funds.

More than $1 billion of those funds has already been secured, but MTA brass said last month that it would be unable to put up the remaining $3 billion to secure $2 billion in federal grants.

That $3 billion would instead go towards so-called “state of good repair work” that the agency had expected to be able to fund with congestion pricing bonds.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber. (Gardiner Anderson for ˵Ӱ)

At the time, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber had said discussions with federal transportation officials were ongoing in an effort to buy time to save the federal dollars.

“There is no intention to abandon that [federal] grant,” Lieber said.

Congestion pricing — the state’s plan to charge motorists a base toll of $15 per day for driving into Midtown and lower Manhattan — had been expected to raise $1 billion in revenue annually, against which the MTA planned on borrowing $15 billion in bonds.

Hochul’s eleventh-hour decision to pause the plan has left the agency scrambling to fund the remainder of it’s capital budget, a decision that has led to indefinite delays to the Second Ave. subway extension, new subway car purchases, and other major transit projects.

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