In 1971, the MTA produced a video progress report documenting the excavation and construction of the East River Tunnel at 63rd Street, from March 1970 to June 1971. Work on the two-level tunnel, extending to Queens under the East River and through Roosevelt Island, then called Welfare Island, began on November 25, 1969. The project was budgeted at 69.5 million dollars. "A monumental MTA project," the video informs, "carried out with care and precision. By 1976, it will be in daily use."
After years of delays, the upper level finally opened in 1989, and was dubbed the 'Tunnel to Nowhere' "because all it did," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney wrote, "was bring passengers one stop into Queens." It ultimately cost nearly 1.5 billion dollars to complete, and the lower level has never been used for train service. That lower level is now being planned to extend all the way to Grand Central Station, at a reported cost of 6.3 billion dollars. Watch the MTA's 1971 "Film Report" on the 63rd Street tunnel project, below.
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