Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16, 2008

Thirteen/WNET, the local PBS station, aired a segment from their Blueprint America series called "Is the Subway Going Back Down the Tubes?" last Tuesday, December 16th.

The full segment, and some additional background information on the 2nd Avenue Subway project, can be found on the PBS web links listed below.

Video: "Is the Subway Going Back Down the Tubes?"
Thirteen/WNET (8:50) - 12/16/08

Web Video: "Building the Second Avenue Subway"
Thirteen/WNET (3:45) - 12/16/08

Archive Video: "Saga of the 2nd Avenue Subway"
Thirteen/WNET (8:00) - 1975
"This 51st State (Channel Thirteen) report in 1975 tells the story of New York City’s repeated attempts to complete a second subway line on the East Side."

- - -

Here's a listing of the recent additions to the
right-hand column of The Launch Box:

Under Web Links:
"The Second Avenue Line – The Greatest Subway New York Never Built"
a Timeline, from Thirteen/WNET

Under News Links:
"The Subway Route of All Evil"
New York Post - 12/14/08

Under Video / Audio Links:
"2nd Avenue Subway New York" (10:33)
ABC Radio National By Design (from Australia) - 11/26/08
"Janne Ryan talks on site to the project's chief engineer,
David Caiden, and Bill Dentzer, from Arup."

"Subway Construction Slows Down 2nd Ave. Business" (2:45)
NY1 - 12/11/08

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 14, 2008 - Working at Night

It was hot in the city on Friday evening, for the middle of November, so I decided to go for a walk and take a few pictures of evening work location at the NW corner of 93rd street and 2nd avenue.

The crew that was working at this hour was digging a trench for part of the slurry wall that will become the west side of The Launch Box.

All of the pictures that follow were taken using the
Sepia tone setting on my camera.

One of many pedestrians that stopped to observe the activity.

The crew here is digging a 70 foot deep trench using a piece of equipment called a Diaphragm Wall Grab.

The Grab is lifted, and lowered, into the trench using one of the big Liebherr crawler cranes - as shown in the image above.

The crane operator has just lowered the Grab deep into the trench.

And now the Grab has just been lifted out of the trench, with the bucket at the end full with a load of earth and rocks.

Another view of the same work location -
this time looking south down 2nd avenue.

The liquid that is falling off the Grab, as it is being lifted out of the trench, is a mixture of water and bentonite. The hole is full of the water & bentonite mixture to prevent the collapse of the trench.

The soil and rocks from the bottom of the trench are dumped by the Grab into a pile, and then loaded into a truck to be taken away.

I left the site at about 9 PM, as the crew kept working.

- - -

Here's a listing of the recent additions to the right-hand
column of The Launch Box:

Under News Links:

Local Business Owners Struggle Through Construction Project
The Epoch Times - 11/6/08

Upper E. Hell Zone
New York Post - 11/10/08

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008

Source: Second Ave. Sagas - 10/31/08
A nice looking poster, from an F train.
Clearly the MTA is optimistic about having Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway running by 2015.

93rd St, NW corner
At this location there is a crew working to clear an obstruction at the bottom of one of the new holes for the slurry wall. The obstruction is probably a large rock, or section of Manhattan bedrock, that wasn't detected when the test bores were drilled before the project got started.

In this image, and the series that follow, a crew of men is using one of the big Liebherr crawler cranes to "work on" the rock down in the hole.

The crane is used to lower (and lift) a gravity-powered steel drop chisel in the hole -- the goal being to break up the rock at the bottom and create a flat surface so that the rotary drilling rig can be brought in to drill out the rock. (the rotary drill requires a flat surface for drilling through rock, otherwise the teeth at the end of the drill just break off, I was told, by a friend of The Launch Box.)

Here's a close up image of the chisel.
In this image the chisel, which slides up and down on a sort of guide, is about to be lifted out of the hole.

The chisel, which I'm told ways 15,000 pounds, has just been lifted off of the guide (which is the piece of steel that is sticking up out of the hole.)

And it's being laid down on the ground here.
(Note the beveled edge on the left end.)

Now a team of workers is connecting two sets of steel cables so that the guide for the chisel can be repositioned in the hole. (Yes, each crew member is wearing a personal floatation device. They must wear these for safety reasons, because of the slurry mixture down in the hole.)

Here the crew takes care to see that the cables don't become tangled.

The crawler crane has now taken up the slack in the cable and the men, with the help of a backhoe, work to reposition the steel guide for the chisel.

92nd, SW corner - looking E
Sections of concrete road decking have been piled at this location on 2nd Avenue.

Another view of the same stack of concrete decking.

91st, btw. 2nd and 3rd
The Second Avenue Business Association hosted a block party in the afternoon to raise awareness of its Save Our Stores Campaign.

New York State Assembly Members Micah Kellner and Jonathan Bing joined the party to show their support for the business association, and to assist with the judging of the costume contest.

- - -

Here's a listing of the recent additions to the left-hand
column of The Launch Box:

Under Community Board 8
Second Avenue Subway Task force:

Copies of the 2 presentations that were made at
the October 28th meeting:
Construction Progress Update - 10/28/08
(Launch Box and Shaft Site work btw. 69th and 72nd Streets) - 4.8 MB

Architectural Finishes and Design - 10/29/08
(96th, 86th and 72nd Street Stations) - 6.2 MB

And this additional presentation from the August 28th CB8 meeting:
69th Street Entrance Plan with Dimension - 08/28/08

Under Web Links:
"Second Avenue Subway: Rethink 1" and
"Second Avenue Subway: Rethink 2"
from the blog The Transport Politic

I've also added a glossary, since the blog from time to time includes words and terms that may not be well known.
- I-beam
- Rebar
- Secant wall (loads slowly)
- Slurry wall
- Tunnel Boring Machine
(I'll add more over time.)

And take note that the MTA's "3 Week Looks Ahead" web page now includes a new section that details the construction activity between 69th and 73rd streets, on Second Avenue.

- - -

Sometime last week The Launch Box blog had it's 10,000th visitor. To mark this small milestone I've decided to publish a summary of the visitor statistics.

As of November 1, 2008:

Total Visits - 10,180
New Visitors - 4,874
Returning Visitors - 5,306

Total Pageviews - 23,394
Average Pageviews - 2.30 / visit
Average Time on Site - 02:34 / per visit

Traffic Sources:
Number of Sources and mediums - 160
24.84% Direct Traffic
44.02% Referring Sites
31.14% Search Engines

Top 5 Sources -
Direct / (none) - 2,529 visits
Google / organic - 1,763
en.Wikipedia / referral - 1,228
Google / cpc - 1,220
Curbed.com / referral - 484

Visitor Location:
92.2% United States
7.8% outside the United States

Of those from inside the United States -
65.05% New York State
4.90% California
4.66% New Jersey
4.19% Connecticut
21.20% all other States, except Montana, Wyoming or Nebraska.

The source of this data is Google Analytics.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 18, 2008 - A Big Hole

92nd, NW corner - looking S
Finally, after 15 months of hard work, we see the start of the "big hole" (in 2nd Avenue) that will become the launch box for the Tunnel Boring Machine.

Workers began digging out the hole, and decking over 2nd Avenue, about two week ago. They will continue decking over 2nd Avenue, moving up the west side of the avenue - and then they will repeat the process on the east side.

Here workers can be seen positioning new sections of concrete decking. The decking is supported by a grid of steel beams.

Another view of the decking.

92nd - looking SW
Workers have completed decking over 2nd Avenue at this location, except for one section.

Here's another view of the same access hole at this location. Obviously this hole will need to be closed before traffic is shifted back to the west side of the avenue...

What I find interesting is that the decking was installed before large quantities of earth underneath was removed. My guess is that they will completely deck over most of 2nd Avenue and only then will they excavate the hole to it's full depth of 70 or so feet. (Note: A reader just left a comment that appears to explain why they need to do more work before digging the launch box any deeper. You can click on the comment at the end of this posting.)

btw. 92nd and 93rd, W side - looking N
Here's picture of a set of the large pipes that are used to drill out the secant piles.

Here we have an typical New York City apartment building (on the east side of the avenue) framed by two of the drilling pipes.

Here you see two of the steel I-beams that form the outer edge of the launch box, with a secant pile drilling pipe in the middle. Keep in mind that these I-beams are about 77 feet in length.

btw. 94th & 95th - looking S
Here workers are positioning a new piece of the temporary pipeline that's used to transport the slurry concrete mix, from the plant on 96th street, to the job site.

Same location - looking N

This a portable screw pump for the concrete slurry. It's called a Screwsucker, and if you're really interested you can read more about this machine on this web link.

94th, near the NW corner - looking S
The worker in this picture is cleaning a piece of equipment that's sitting on top of one of the deep rectangular holes that has been dug out for a section of the slurry wall.

Same location - looking NE
This, I believe, is another one of the rectangular slurry wall holes. Workers have installed a steel rebar cage inside the hole and the next step, I believe, is to pour in the concrete slurry mixture.

I think these funny looking things are a kind of funnel that is used when concrete is poured into one of the secant hall holes. They are laying on their side at the moment.

btw. 92nd and 91st, W side - looking N
I found this large colored panel down near 91st street, in an area of the job site that is mostly used for storage at the moment. I've recently learned (from a comment that was left on the blog) that this is a welding screen. It's used to protect people walking by from the intense light and UV radiation put out by a welder.

btw. 92nd and 93rd, W side - looking S
These large blue panels are used to protect pedestrians, from flying pieces of mud, when the rotary drilling rig is working on the job site.
(This picture is sort of out of place, I know, but I thought it would go nicely after the orange panel in the previous shot. )

Here's a listing of the recent additions to the left-hand
column of The Launch Box:

Regional Plan Association:
“Tomorrow’s Transit: New Mobility for the Region’s Urban Core”
Press Release
Report (12 Mb)
"RPA Releases Transit Blueprint for Urban Core.
A new study by the Regional Plan Association lays out a comprehensive plan for new and upgraded transit for New York City and Northern New Jersey. The 53-page, in-depth report entitled “Tomorrow’s Transit: New Mobility for the Region’s Urban Core” outlines new subway, bus, commuter rail, light rail and ferry projects for the Region's ‘Urban Core,’ which includes the five boroughs of New York City and urban portions of Northern New Jersey. The nearly forty recommendations focus on providing service to underserved and impoverished areas, better connections within the existing transit network and short- and long-term transit solutions with varying price tags."

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 2, 2008

These pictures were taken on a Thursday around Noon, when the job site was very busy with activity in every block from 91st up to 96th.

btw. 91st & 92nd - looking N
In this picture, and the one that follows, you get an idea just how much equipment is now on the work site.

95th, NW corner - looking S

btw. 92nd & 93rd - looking W
Here one end of a 77 foot steel beam is slowly being lifted so that the beam can then be lowered down into into one of the secant pile holes on the west side of the avenue. (I can't imagine how much this beam must weigh.)

All traffic has now been stopped as workers prepare to position the (now vertical) beam over the hole.

btw. 93rd & 94th, SE corner - looking W
In this set of images you see a specialized clam shell bucket crane digging deep holes for the slurry walls on the west side of The Launch Box.

92nd, NW corner - looking E
The rotary drilling rig - hard at work.

95th, NW corner - looking E
Here workers are pouring fresh concrete.

btw. 72nd & 73rd, E side - looking N
Here a worker has just marked (with an orange line) the outside edge of 2nd Avenue Subway construction zone for this block. This would suggest that the MTA's contractors will be starting work in this area soon.

73rd, NW corner - looking S

And and finally, this new Second Avenue Business Association poster was spotted in numerous store front windows in the neighborhood.

- - -

Here's a listing of the recent additions to the left-hand
column of The Launch Box:

Second Avenue Business Association:
Press Release - Second Ave Retailers Issue SOS - 09/25/08

Life on Second - drawings by the artist Dominick Santise:
"The Slurry Walls" - 10/13/08
"Center Stage" - 10/02/08
"Do Not Cross!" - 10/01/08
"Digging a Ditch" - 09/25/08

Video Links:
"2nd Avenue Heartache" by Jason Rice - 08/16/08
From YouTube:
"Trailer for a short documentary on the 2nd Avenue Subway Line, know as being "the most famous thing in New York that has never been built". Finally, after 70 years of planning, construction is under way. But how are Upper east Side residents and businesses dealing with the most massive construction project in the history of the city."

The next Meeting of
The Community Board 8 Second Avenue Subway Task Force
has now been announced

Tuesday, October 28th
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Hunter College
129 East 79th Street
btw. Park & Lex)


1. Construction Update

a. Launch Box update

b. Shaft Site work at 69th and 72nd Streets

2. Architectural finishes and design:

a. 96th Street station

b. 86th Street station, except the entrance serving the east side of Second Avenue at 86th Street. **This entrance is being studied in an Environmental Assessment and will not be discussed at this time.

c. 69th Street entrance to 72nd Street station. **Because the entrance serving the east side of Second Avenue at 72nd Street is being studied in an Environmental Assessment, this entrance will not be discussed at this time. In addition, designs for the 72nd Street station ancillary facilities at 69th and 72nd Streets are not completed. When ancillary facility designs are complete, we will return to Community Board 8 to present them.

3. Old Business

4. New Business