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    22 February 2009

    Crews begin work on 7 line extension

    7 symbol7 symbolFlushing Local and Express

    The front of a tunnel-boring machine was lowered into a hole, 125 feet deep, near 11th Avenue Thursday, after Mayor Bloomberg hailed his extension of the 7 subway line as critical to the city’s future. Others worried that hole might become a drain on the MTA.

    From the hole at 25th Street, the machine will dig a tunnel north past the new line’s only station at 34th Street and then turn east on 41st, where it will continue to Times Square. The 1.5-mile line is “being paid for by the city,” Bloomberg said, but the city’s refusal to guarantee cost overruns has already led to the dropping of a planned second station at 10th Avenue. It also won’t pay nearly $200 million for the new cars needed to make the extension run.

    “We’re going to do this on-time and on-budget,” Bloomberg said confidently. “The city’s involved.”

    The city’s financing the project with $2.1 billion in bonds that will be repaid from tax revenues realized from the future development of the Hudson Yards area. But the credit crunch has now delayed a deal to build office and apartment towers over the MTA’s West Side rail yards, and the city has yet to move on an additional bond offering.

    “I’m worried,” said rider advocate Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. He points to estimates that the 7 line extension could ultimately cost $3.5 billion to $4 billion. “You tell me where the money’s going to come from,” he said. “The project is a threat to the MTA’s finances and the rest of its capital program.” 

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