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City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Council Transportation Committee, said he was not optimistic the No. 7 extension would be built "any time in the near future.""But it was never clear that project was the right place to spend $2 billion," Liu said.Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to build a Jets stadium above the West Side rail yards as a centerpiece of the city's bid for the Olympic Games in 2012 was defeated last week in a vote by a three-man state committee, dooming the project in Manhattan. The MTA had agreed to sell the rail yards near the Javits Center to the Jets football team."If the mayor is not going to use the $2 billion for that project, I would like to see him use that money for other mass transit such as badly needed rehabilitation of subway stations, including many in Queens, and improving bus service, particularly express buses and more rapid bus transit."Gene Russianoff, attorney for the transit activist agency Straphangers Campaign, said the future of the extension was "uncertain." "It would seem that some of the air has been knocked out of the sails of the project now that the stadium is off," Russianoff said. "I think the ball is now back with the New York City Planning Department."The city agreed to pay $2 billion for the extension to the Javits Center but not for any possible cost overruns.Tom Kelly, chief spokesman for the MTA, said while the No. 7 extension plan is part of the agency's capital plan, the MTA is not committed to spending any money on it.Russianoff said that could mean trouble for the MTA if it had to make up the difference, depleting money needed for what the MTA calls mega projects such as the Second Avenue subway and the East Side Access to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal.The Second Avenue line would cost $16.8 billion and the East Side Access $6.3 billion.Under the proposal, the No. 7, which runs between Main Street, Flushing and Times Square, would be extended by 7,000 feet from Eighth Avenue and 41st Street to 34th Street and 11th Avenue. The project would include a new subway station at 10th Avenue and a subway entrance in the Javits Center. The New York City Transit Authority says an average of 370,000 riders use the No. 7 on a weekday. Jeremy Sofin, director of public affairs of the Regional Plan Association, said he believed the No. 7 extension would become a reality "but further down the road.""As of now, it's pretty much up in the air," Sofin said, adding that his agency had long asked that the No. 7 extension be delayed "until the dust from 9/11 settles."
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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