The MTA is "cautiously optimistic" that the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway will open before the end of 2016, MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast announced at a public meeting Monday, giving New Yorkers hope of a shiny present for the holidays.

Days after Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the new 72nd Street station, Prendergast expressed measured confidence that the $4 billion first phase of the project, which has been a dream for generations of New Yorkers, would meet a promised end-of-year deadline, after months of speculation that the first four stations on the line wouldn't open until 2017.

At the meeting, the authority's independent engineer, Kent Haggas, testified that major rail operating systems are mostly completed and have been tested. The communications network, fire alarm systems, and station booths still need work.

Haggas said that outstanding building code deficiencies, a major point of concern, have been significantly reduced, and that at the current rate of progress, he expects them to be on track for the end of year deadline. System testing is also on track for completion.

Pressed several times at the meeting, Prendergrast kept to the same tune. "We are cautiously optimistic that we are going to meet the revenue service date," Prendergast said. "That's it in a nutshell."

Prendergrast said the authority is also hoping to improve conditions above ground on Second Avenue in the coming few weeks. He said the MTA is hoping in the coming weeks to "do as much as we can to restore Second Avenue to the condition it was in before we started the construction." Local residents and merchants would certainly appreciate that.