2nd Avenue Subway Project nearing completion of phase 1

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Rob Nelson reports from the Upper East Side. (WABC)

For so long, the 2nd Avenue Subway Project has seemed like a distant dream for East Siders, but decades of patience now appears to be paying off.

"All the lessons that we learned from Fulton Center, that we learned from number 7, are being applied here," said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, the MTA Capital Construction Company President.

The MTA gave the media a lengthy tour Thursday of the engineering marvel bustling underneath 2nd Avenue. Work at the 72nd and 86th Street stations is moving steadily with new tunnels, new tracks, elevators, and Mezzanine levels.

It's a fascinating look at the giant staircase and a look at where the escalators will be at the 72nd Street Station.

Completing the line from 63rd Street to 96th Street for about 200,000 riders is the first phase of the project and officials say they are confident that part of the work will be done by the end of next year.

However, the funding for phase 2, extending the line to 125th Street in Harlem remains in limbo as the MTA wrestles with the city and state for more cash.

"What matters is that we get it right," Horodniceanu said.

The massive multi-billion project, which began eight years ago, is designed to alleviate congestion on 4, 5 and 6 lines along Lexington Avenue, which carry nearly 2 million passengers every weekday.

Officials say the line will serve one of the most densely populated areas in the city and the new station design will be reminiscent of the metro system in DC.

"What is similar is the openings, what we've done at the mezzanine level is we've created these openings, so that when you are on the platform it's not claustrophobic, you can actually look all the way up," Horodniceanu said.

The entire project includes 8.5 miles of track and 16 new stations, but the final completion date is still anybody's guess.

For now though, commuters can take solace in the fact that there is literally a little more light at the end of the tunnel.

The project is now about a year and half from completion.

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