#MapMondays - 1969 Subway Extension Plan

1969 subway plan4action.jpg

Known as the Program for Action, the mega expansion proposal under Mayor Lindsay sought to build 40 miles of new tracks in Queens alone. The plan was extremely ambitious, especially considering the previous decades had focused transit development on building highways with little to no funding going to new public transportation projects. The plan also called for improved connections to JFK and Laguardia Airports, along with Metro-North and Long Island Railroad improvements.

To meet the demand for public transit ridership in the outer boroughs and Long Island, an LIRR East Midtown connection, via a new East River tunnel under Roosevelt Island with a double-decked tunnel used by subway and a new LIRR East Midtown connection was outlined. The proposal called for a double-decked tunnel; a four-track immersed tube under the East River and Roosevelt Island. The tunnel’s top level would be used by the IND 63rd Street subway line (today’s F and Q) and the bottom for the new LIRR East Midtown connection. Construction began in October 1969 but the lower level would be stalled and over fifty years later will finally be completed as part of the East Side Access project in 2022.

Although most of the routes in the plan were approved, the city nearly went bankrupt in 1975 and all but two of the projects were canceled due to insufficient funding, with only six stations and 15 miles of track constructed. The 63rd Street and Archer Avenue lines that were completed opened behind schedule and were only a small section of the original proposal.