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9 U.S. transportation projects to watch in 2017

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From bridges to trains, here’s what’s next

New York bridge under construction
The Tappan Zee Bridge under construction in New York on November 16, 2016
Courtesy of New NY Bridge

The new year is here. If you’re tired of looking back at 2016—and let’s face it, who isn’t—now’s the time to focus on what’s to come in 2017. And for transportation infrastructure, 2017 will be big.

While it’s too early to know how President-elect Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan will impact American cities, several significant transportation developments are slated to debut in metropolitan areas like New York, San Francisco, and Charlotte. Some projects will replace aging infrastructure while others are building out brand new transportation systems.

All of them aim to move people more efficiently and improve commute times. For this list, we’ve focused on projects that are currently scheduled to arrive in the next year. From bridges to subways to bike lanes, here are 9 transportation projects to watch in 2017. Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.

New York City: The Second Avenue Subway

The first major MTA subway expansion in 50 years, the oft-delayed Second Avenue Subway line is set to start the new year off right with a January 1, 2017 opening. Originally discussed in the 1910s and subsequently delayed by the Great Depression and a lack of post-war funding, the Second Avenue Subway’s first bout of construction started in 1972 but was halted again in 1975 due to a fiscal crisis in the city.

Work on the line restarted in 2007 and the MTA promised transit riders the project’s first phase would be open by 2017. Now, it looks like the line will make its deadline, with full service of the $4.5 billion line beginning on January 9. Phase two—which would run from 96th to 125th streets—won’t begin until at least 2019 and could cost a staggering $6 billion to finish. Still, this moment can’t be overstated.

As Curbed NY writes, “Nearly a century after the idea of a Second Avenue line was first proposed, and a decade after construction actually began, the Second Avenue subway is this close to becoming a reality.” Head over here for more info.

New York: The New Tappan Zee Bridge

Located north of Manhattan near Tarrytown, New York, the $4 billion New Tappan Zee Bridge is currently one of the largest public infrastructure projects under construction in the United States.

Work on the 3.1-mile bridge began in 2013 and comes with some big expectations: It will replace the original Tappan Zee Bridge, which is falling apart but provides a crucial link across the Hudson River.

When completed, the bridge will have eight traffic lanes, four breakdown and emergency lanes, and space for express buses, a bicycle path, and a pedestrian path with viewing areas.

The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in summer 2017, but only on the two separate spans connecting Westchester County and Rockland County. The other four-lane span won’t be open until 2018.

Construction on the New Tappan Zee Bridge on December 13, 2016
Courtesy of New NY Bridge

San Francisco: BART Expansion

There are a few projects under construction in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the biggest opening of 2017 will be the Bay Area Rapid Transit authority’s Richmond-Fremont line. Originally supposed to open in 2014, the Warm Springs extension will add 5.4 miles and a new station. You can also expect new BART trains in 2017.

Another project to watch—even though it’s still in the construction phase—is the Central Subway project through Chinatown. The new line will run from the T-Third near Caltrain on Fourth Street up through Chinatown on Stockton, and end near the entrance of North Beach.

The Chinatown subway’s opening date isn’t until 2019, but construction on the line should be nearing its end in 2017 and 2018. Over the next year, stay on top of construction delays and look for other major announcements—like whether or not the new Central Subway station will be named after civic leader and Chinatown advocate Rose Pak.

Rendering of Central Subway’s Chinatown station
Photo via Central Subway

Los Angeles: MyFigueroa

Despite a slew of delays, L.A.’s highly anticipated bike- and pedestrian-friendly street improvements known as MyFigueroa will finally open in 2017. Construction began this past summer to transform a four-mile stretch of Figueroa Street between Seventh Street in Downtown’s Financial District and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Exposition Park, with two offshoots along the way.

According to Curbed LA, the makeover will include a protected bike lane, bike signals, a dedicated lane for express buses, bus platforms and wider sidewalks. Elsewhere in LA, keep an eye on the Purple line extension and the Regional Connector still making progress underground. And at the start of 2017, the Crenshaw/LAX train line will have passed the halfway mark.

A rendering of the new Figueroa Corridor
Courtesy of MyFigueroa

Detroit: The Q Line

After years of anticipation, Detroit locals will finally get to ride on the QLINE streetcar in Spring 2017. Originally called the M-1 Rail, the QLINE is a streetcar that will run 3.3 miles along Woodward Avenue and connect the downtown Detroit People Mover to the railway station in New Center.

The QLINE’s stations are finishing up construction and testing will continue throughout early 2017. Head over to Curbed Detroit for more info.

The new QLINE trains in Detroit
Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Charlotte: Light Rail Expansion

Charlotte is in the midst of a light rail expansion, and locals can expect the Blue Line extension to open in August 2017. The 9.3-mile addition will add 11 stations, 3,100 parking spaces, four park and ride facilities, and will nearly double the size of the one-line light rail system. After opening, the Blue Line will run northeast from downtown to the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus.

The Blue Line light rail in Charlotte, North Carolina
Courtesy of

Investment in Bus Rapid Transit in various U.S. cities

Across the country, cities are opting to invest in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead of fixed-rail transit. In its purest form, BRT systems aim to have the capacity and speed of a metro or subway line with the lower costs of a bus system. That means dedicated bus lanes to avoid traffic jams, off-board fare collections, and level station platforms with multiple bus doors to reduce delays.

In 2017, expect to see the opening of several new BRT systems. In San Francisco’s East Bay, Alameda will debut a 9.5 mile BRT that will run between downtown Oakland and San Leandro. In Richmond, Virginia, a new Pulse BRT system will use 10 buses and 14 stations to serve a 7.6-mile route downtown. And Eugene, Oregon will debut a third BRT system in West Eugene that should open in fall 2017.

Concept art for Richmond’s Bus Rapid Transit
Courtesy of GRTC Transit System