UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The public can now tour the new 96th Street station ahead of the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, finally seeing 10 years of work coming to a new beginning.
New Yorkers are getting a special preview tour of the station, which began Thursday and continues Friday. The subway will open with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's inaugural ride on New Year's Eve.
The open house marks the first time the public is getting access to the Second Avenue Subway since the start of construction.
"I think it's great," said visitor Esther Williams. "I think it's wonderful that they are going to be finishing this thing."
"It's beautiful, really is beautiful," said the governor.
Cuomo led a tour of the new station with city, state and federal officials and many who worked on the project.
Nearly a decade to build the three station line, it is a much different approach to the subway system.
"It really is state of the art," said Cuomo. "So it's not only done but it's really well done, and it's impressively done. And we're all proud to be part of it."
The project, with its dust and noise, was hard on the residents who stayed in the area. It was hard on businesses, some forced to close.
Joe Pecora, a businessman, was glad to see this day.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "I can't wait to ride the train and be part of this great community and serve our community."
The governor began pushing for a Jan. 1st deadline and the MTA promises to make its first Q train run on New Year's Day.
Executive assistant Jackie Carson worked on the project. "We started it was on paper," she said. "It was just on paper. Now it's real, it's a fantastic feeling."
The public got their first opportunity to see the 96th Street station at an open house, many wondering for years what it would look like. "It's really cool," said Beth, a visitor. "It's really big and colorful which is different than others, it looks great."
"That claustrophobic feeling is gone, these are large ceilings, domed areas," said Cuomo. "There's artwork that is spectacular. You don't have the columns everywhere that give you that sense of being closed in. Different tracks so the trains will literally be quieter. It really is state of the art."
The public tours of the 96th Street station will be offered Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Riders get sneak preview of 96th Street stop on Second Avenue Subway