Kim Calamita would love to take the subway to her home in East Harlem, instead of the bus.

"I got to take two buses to get back uptown if I'm coming from downtown and with the train, it'd be quicker," she said.

What You Need To Know

  • The Second Avenue subway, first proposed 100 years ago, broke ground in 1972

  • The first section opened in 2017

  • The second phase will add three stations to 106th, 116th and 125th streets

She will be waiting many years for that train ride.

Construction of the next phase of the Second Avenue subway, from Second Avenue and 96th Street to Lexington and 125th Street, is increasingly in doubt.

The agency just doesn't have the money for it.

“It’s easy to say we’re gonna build the Second Avenue subway, it’s a lot harder to come up with the money to do it," said Philip Plotch, author of the book, Last Subway, that chronicles the history of the fabled subway line.

Perhaps no project symbolizes the MTA's inability to build new subway lines to meet the city's mass-transit needs more than the Second Avenue subway.

The line was proposed 100 years ago.

Construction didn't begin until 1972, then was halted when the city nearly went bankrupt.

Work resumed in 2007, and 10 years later the first section opened, providing service from 63rd to 96th Streets.

Since then, the MTA has been planning for the next phase with stations at 106th, 116th, and 125th Streets in East Harlem.

Two sections of tunnel at 105th and 120th streets are already built.

The MTA included the project in its proposed $51 billion capital plan.

Then the coronavirus crisis hit.

As ridership plunged, derailing its finances, the MTA froze spending on new construction projects.

"A victim of coronavirus? You could say that," Plotch said. "But you could also say that this decision would have been a tough one even before coronavirus."

Meanwhile, the federal government has so far failed to approve the billions in funding the MTA has been banking on to help finance this work.

“Absent clarity from the federal government, we can't move forward with the next phase of the Second Avenue subway project,” said MTA's Construction Chief Janno Lieber.

But the Federal Transit Administration blames the MTA, saying the agency must design the project and provide a firm final cost before a funding deal is reached.

This comes even as President Trump tweeted his support of the project.

The MTA had anticipated opening the East Harlem segment in 2027. But Meeting that goal seems to drift further and further out of reach.

Calamita said she's unsure where she'll be by then.

"But if I am here, I hope they do what they said they was gonna do.”