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Second Ave. Subway Gets Huge Funding Boost Under MTA's New Budget

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The MTA board has agreed on a $27B capital plan despite questions over where the money will come from

Work on the Second Avenue Subway tunnel at 96th Street
Work on the Second Avenue Subway tunnel at 96th Street

Yesterday, the MTA board signed off on a $27 billion capital plan, one that would fund a host of improvements for the subway at a time of peak ridership. The long-delayed 2015-2019 capital plan, which the MTA has been voting on since September of 2014, allocated funds for new cars, a new electronic MetroCard system, station overhauls, the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now all it needs is final approval from the state and Governor Cuomo, which is expected to come in the next month.

The Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access Projects, two of the most ambitious the MTA is working on, will both get significant funding boosts. The agency promised $1 billion for plans to extend the Second Avenue subway to East Harlem, $500 million more than an earlier proposal. And East Side Access will get about $2.5 billion to connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.

But the question looms, as it often does with the MTA, in how the agency will pay for it all. MTA officials said fares won't rise as they take on additional debt, which may help pay for the state's $8.3 billion contribution for the program. The city is expected to contribute $2.5 billion, an agreement reached after months of fighting between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio over if the city should pay more.

State and city officials have not yet specified where most of the funding will come from. And questions surround the $500 million slated for the Second Avenue Subway, scheduled to debut its first phase this December. Financing is expected from federal grants, which also require local matching funds, but the MTA hasn't applied for them yet.

There are also questions around the MTA's deal with developer Boston Properties on building a new skyscraper on its former Madison Avenue headquarters. The MTA expects $1 billion as part of a 99-year lease, but city officials have opposed the plan because it would deprive the city of tax revenue.

Still, the MTA is holding out for the $8.3 billion from the state. According to the New York Times, Lawrence S. Schwartz, a board member and a former top aide to the governor, promised the board: "The money will be there."