Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

The MTA's staff photographer Patrick Cashin was on-site at the TBM launch box on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

A selection of his shots were posted on the MTA's Facebook page the other day and I've reproduced a couple of them below.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/21/10

In this shot the photographer is standing inside one of the two starter tunnels and he's looking north - at the front of the TBM.

The cutterhead (the yellow object) has only moments ago been lowered into the launch box through the glory hole located near the SE corner of East 92nd Street and Second Avenue. The workers here are preparing to mount it onto the cutterhead support.

The cutterhead has a "Q" painted on it since it is the Q Line that will be extended north under Second Avenue as part of Phase 1 of this project.

At the moment no one that I've talked to seems to know what the letters "ADI" (on the front of the cutterhead) stand for. Logical searches on Google, to find the answer, have come up blank - but I've been told "to keep digging, because hints are out there."

When someone figures out what this means I'll be sure to update this posting.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/21/10

An Update - 4/27/10
The MTA just provided me with a high-resolution copy of this image. Left-click on the image for a very detailed view of the TBM and the south end of the launch box.

This shot was taken (I guess) from a catwalk that is somewhere near the ceiling of the launch box. What's interesting is that from this angle the TBM looks rather of small. Don't be fooled though - just look at the size of the men that are standing near the machine.

In this shot you also can clearly see the east and west starter tunnels, on the left and right respectively.

You an also see the main beam and the cutterhead support. In this shot the cutterhead is still being suspended in the air by the crane on the street.

The will start (in mid-May) by boring the west tunnel. When they reach 63rd Street they will back the TBM up to the launch box and then they will bore the east tunnel.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/21/10

And here's a closer look at the parts that make up the front-end of the TBM.

These three TBM parts (the main beam, the cutterhead support, and the cutterhead) together weight approximately 534,000 pounds (267 tons).

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/22/10

This shot, and the shots that follow, were taken the next day.

By now the cutterhead has finally been mounted onto the cutterhead support and the workers are continuing to assemble the machine.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/22/10

In this shot the photographer is standing below the glory hole near the SE corner of East 92nd Street and Second Avenue.

The building that is visible is The Chartwell House, a 34-story condominium apartment tower located at 1760 Second Avenue.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/22/10

And again we have a nice view of the two starter tunnels and the TBM.

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/22/10

Patrick J. Cashin/MTA - 4/22/10

This is another shot of the TBM as it looked last Thursday.

You can view all of Patrick Cashin's images (28 in total) on the MTA's Facebook page.

The MTA also produced a short video of the cutterhead event last Wednesday evening.

TBM Cutterhead Arrives (2:51)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority via YouTube - 4/22/10

Note that this video can be viewed
in high-definition (HD) if you follow these steps:
Left-click 2 times on the video (this will re-direct you to the YouTube site.) Then move your cursor over the "360p" in the lower right-hand corner of the video and select one of the other video modes - "720p" (1280 x 720 pixels) or "1080p" (1920 x 1080 pixels)

And here's a copy of the MTA's press release on this topic, with even more details.

200-Ton Cutter Head for
Second Avenue Subway's Tunnel Boring Machine Arrives
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - 4/22/10


a view of 1817 Second Avenue (btw. 94th and 95th)

The restaurant at this location re-opened on 4/18/10 after being closed for about a week.

Apparently Hokkaido (the Japanese Restaurant that was at this location) moved to 1694 Second Avenue (btw. 87th and 88th streets) and E.Plus (an Asian fusion & sushi restaurant) quickly took its place.


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

Robbins Main Beam TBM Boring Cycle (0:56)
The Robbins Company via YouTube - 4/14/10
This short video very nicely explains how a Main Beam TBM works. (this is the same type of machine that will be used during Phase 1 of the Second Avenue subway project.)

Robbins Hard Rock Disc Cutters (1:01)
The Robbins Company via YouTube - 4/14/10
This short video explains how the disk cutters on the cutterhead do their job.


And for those that are interested -

A copy of the 8-page Fire Department New York (FDNY) Incident Report for the fire at Knickerbocker Plaza (1751 Second Avenue) on 3/20/10 can now be found on this link:
Fire at 1751 Second Avenue - March 20, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The TBM Cutterhead Arrives

The cutterhead for the Tunnel Boring Machine
has arrived at the launch box.

This piece will be mounted later tonight onto the cutterhead support (the piece that arrived last night) and before long S3 Tunnel Constructors (the contractor for this part of the project) will be ready to start the first tunnel drive towards 63rd Street.

In case you're wondering, the tunneling is currently scheduled to start in mid-May, after a shakedown period for the machine.

As background - the machine on this project is a Robbins Main Beam Tunnel Boring Machine. It is now being assembled inside the so-called TBM launch box under Second Avenue, between 92nd and 95th streets. The launch box has been under construction for just over 3 years now.

All of the ground level shots, unless noted otherwise, were taken from the west side of Second Avenue, between 91st and 92nd streets.

The aerial shots were taken from an apartment on the NW corner of The Waterford, a residential building located at 300 East 93rd Street.

Note that you can left-click on any image to view it in a high-definition format.

East 92nd Street - looking N
9:25 p.m. EDT

The rig with the cutterhead rolled into town just before 9:30 p.m. -- just as I was walking over to work site to capture a set of images for the blog.

9:26 p.m.

The truck has just come to a stop and the men are now working to remove the chains that were used to secure the cutterhead to the trailer.

Take a close look at the 10-axle platform trailer that they used to transport this thing.

It [the trailer] was made in Europe somewhere (probably France) by the company Nicolas Industries. It's top speed is 60 km/hr (approx 36 m.p.h.) according to the sticker that I noticed on the rear of the trailer. (I wonder what the toll was to get it across the GW?)

9:35 p.m.

In this image workers can be seen connecting the slings (which are green) to the 123,000 pound (61 1/2 ton) cutterhead so that it can be lifted off the trailer.

9:37 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

9:39 p.m.

In this shot you can clearly see the backside of the cutterhead. This surface will be mated up against the surface of the cutterhead support that was lowered into the hole last night.

9:51 p.m.

This is a close-up shot of part of the cutterhead. When you look closely at it you can see that the actual disk cutters have not yet been mounted.

I was told that the letter "Q" was painted on it on purpose - since this TBM will be digging the tunnels for the extension of the Q Line.

See if you can figure out why the cutterhead has been painted yellow. (you'll find the answer at the end of this posting.)

9:52 p.m.

Now the crane very carefully lifts the piece into a vertical position.

9:53 p.m.

9:54 p.m.

At the moment I can't figure out what in the world "ADI" stands for. If anyone has any ideas please post a comment or drop me an e-mail.

9:55 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

9:55 p.m.

Now the crane slowly moves the piece towards the hole, as workers on two sides steady it using ropes.

9:56 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

9:56 p.m.

The cutterhead is now positioned over the hole.

9:57 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

near the SE corner of East 92nd & 2nd - looking W
9:59 p.m.

10:00 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

near the SE corner of East 92nd & 2nd - looking W
10:00 p.m.

And at 10 p.m. the cutterhead dropped below street level.

And that was it.


Now for the answer to the question, "why did they paint the cutterhead yellow?"

Answer: Because that's the color that the MTA uses to designate the Q Line on route signs, station signs and the official subway map.


Related links:

A Doughnut on 2nd Avenue - April 20, 2010
The Launch Box

The Main Beam - April 19, 2010
The Launch Box

A Doughnut on 2nd Avenue

Another large piece of the Second Avenue subway's Robbins Main Beam Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) was delivered to the work site this evening.

This 220,000 pound (110 ton) piece of machinery, which is known as the cutterhead support, is the front-end of the gigantic rock-eating machine that will soon be boring two new 22 foot diameter tunnels for the Second Avenue subway.

The first set of images (except for the aerial shots) were taken from the west side of Second Avenue, between 91st and 92nd streets.

All of the the aerial shots were taken from an apartment on the NW corner of The Waterford, a residential building located at 300 East 93rd Street.

Note that you can left-click on any image to view it in a high-definition format.

9:24 p.m. EDT
Courtesy of JSL

This piece of the TBM, which looks like a doughnut in this shot, rolled down Second Avenue at about quarter after nine this evening.

The truck with this piece started its journey in Newark earlier this evening and it entered Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge sometime after 8:00 p.m.

9:57 p.m.

In this image the mobile crane, a Liebherr LTM 1400, is just about to lift the piece off of the platform trailer.

10:07 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

An aerial shot of the scene as the workers prepare for the 1st lift of the evening. Traffic on Second Avenue was stopped and then, the piece was airborne.

10:08 p.m.

The trailer has pulled away and 220,000 pounds of steel and machinery was suspended just a few feet above the street.

10:14 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

10:48 p.m.

The piece was then lowered onto a set of large wooden beams.

Workers then repositioned and adjusted the lifting slings in preparation for the next step - standing the piece up on its side!

10:58 p.m.

Just before 11 p.m. the crane operator started the lift.

11:01 p.m.

The piece rose ever so slowly to this position, and then they stopped. Workers carefully rechecked the rigging to be sure that everything was set just right.

11:04 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

When the angle of the piece reaching about 80 degrees it tipped on its own and for a brief moment the piece sort of bobbled while the crane shook (just a bit) as it stabilized the 110 ton piece of steel.

The piece now is basically standing on end on it's own, with some help from the crane.

11:06 p.m.

Again the workers inspected the rigging to be sure that all was in order.

11:09 p.m.

11:10 p.m.

11:13 p.m.

A worker again yelled "going up", and the operator instructed the crane to start lifting the piece... ever so slowly.

11:13 p.m.

Workers then moved into position to carefully rotate the piece so that it could be positioned properly when it was lowered into the hole.

11:16 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

Notice the shadow of the piece against the building across the street.

- - -

The images below (except for the aerial shots) were taken from the east side of Second Avenue, between 91st and 92nd streets.

11:18 p.m.

Very carefully the crane operator positions the piece over the hole, while a man with a rope works to keep the piece from rotating.

11:18 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

11:19 p.m.

Now in position, the piece is slowly lowered into the hole where it will be connected to the main beam of the TBM.

11:21 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

11:23 p.m.

Maybe on Wednesday evening they will deliver the actual cutterhead for the TBM.

Let's wait and see.

: : :: :

In other news -

The MTA just released (on their web site) a copy of the 22-page Second Avenue Subway, Phase 1 Quarterly Report for 4Q2009 that I assume they provided to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) some time ago.

Page 16, reproduced below, includes a Gantt chart (dated 11/30/09) for the project that is labeled "Schedule and Proposed Schedule."

(left-click on the image for a view that is readable.)
FTA Quarterly Report - Second Avenue Subway, Phase 1 - 4Q2009 - p.16

The good news is that the Revenue Operation Date for Phase 1 is still forecast for December 2016.

The bad news is that the forecast completion dates for the contracts that have already been awarded have been pushed back by 1 - 2 months, vs. the last schedule that was presented at the Community Board 8 Second Avenue Subway meeting on 9/24/09.

Other contracts, all yet to be awarded, have had their forecasted completion dates shifted up 1 month or back, as far as 8 months - in the case of the 63rd Street station upgrade.

Anyone who has a serious interest in this project should read this report.


On a lighter note, the Second Avenue Business Association has announced plans for a photo contest. The topic will be, you guessed it - the Second Avenue subway construction.

Details can be found in the flyer shown below.


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

SAS Planning Snapshot: The RPA’s MetroLink
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 4/20/10

"Fairway Market May be Driven From Upper East Side by Second Avenue Subway"
By Gabriela Resto-Montero - 4/21/10

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Main Beam

This evening the so-called "main beam" for the Second Avenue subway tunnel boring machine (TBM) was lowered down into the launch box. The images that follow document this event.

The first set of images (except for the aerial shots) were taken from the west side of Second Avenue, between 91st and 92nd streets.

ll of the the aerial shots were taken from an apartment on the NW corner of The Waterford, a residential building located at 300 East 93rd Street.

Note that you can left-click on any image
to view it in a high-definition format.

9:45 p.m. EDT

The main beam, which is the piece on the TBM that is directly behind the cutterhead support, arrived at the work site on this special trailer shortly after 9 p.m. this evening. It [the main beam] weighs in at 191,000 pounds (95 1/2 tons)

When I arrived at the scene, the workers had just attached the rigging so that the crane could lift the piece off of the trailer.

The mobile crane that was used on this job, which has a lifting capacity of 500 tons, is a German made Liebherr LTM 1400. It is owned by Bay Crane of Long Island City, NY.

9:46 p.m.

This image shows the trailer being moved out from under the piece.

9:59 p.m.

The piece was then lowered onto a set of wooden blocks so that the rigging could be repositioned before the main lift.

10:03 p.m.

Shortly after 10 p.m. a worker called out "going up!" and the right edge of the piece slowly started to rise.

10:06 p.m.

The piece slowly moved higher and higher, and then it stopped.

10:09 p.m.

Some of the rigging needed to be adjusted so the piece was lowered so the men could work on it.

10:23 p.m.

Workers are shown here adjusting the rigging, while the right side of the piece is still in the air.

10:29 p.m.

The workers are now satisfied with the rigging, so the main lift resumes. (If you look carefully at the high-definition shot you can see fluid [I was told that it was water] spilling out of the piece.)

10:31 p.m.

And now the piece is airborne.

10:31 p.m. - looking South, down Second Avenue
Courtesy of JSL

10:33 p.m.

The crane now rotates the boom to the east so that the piece can be positioned over the large glory hole in front of Delizia's Ristorante and Pizzeria.

10:34 p.m.

By now a crowd has gathered as bystanders stop to observe the scene. Everyone seemed to be taking pictures of the lift with an iPhone, cell phone or digital camera.

10:34 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL


This set of images (except for the aerial shots) was taken from the east side of Second Avenue, between 91st and 92nd streets.

10:36 p.m.

Ever so slowly the piece is lowered down into the hole.

10:36 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

10:40 p.m.

Everyone who walks into the scene stops to watch. Most immediately ask "what's going on?"

10:43 p.m.

10:44 p.m.
Courtesy of JSL

10:53 p.m.

Workers observe and direct the positioning of the piece now that its at the bottom of the hole. The cables on the left are connected to the crane.


In other news -

The Japanese Restaurant Hokkaido closed their location at 1817 Second Avenue (btw. 94th & 95th streets) on April 12th.


The sign on the door said that they had moved to 1694 Second Avenue (btw. 87th and 88th streets) and that this location would re-open in about a week, apparently under a new name.

This is the 20th establishment, in the Second Avenue Subway Construction zone between 91st and 95th streets, that has closed since construction started in April 2007.

A complete listing of the stores and restaurants that have closed can be found on this link.


The MTA's lawyers, in the case 233 East 69th Owners Corp. v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT), et al (10 CIV 00491) filed a motion on 4/7/10 requesting that this case be dismissed because "the complaint fails to state a claim."

This is the federal civil case that the co-op owners of 233 East 69th Street brought against the U.S. DOT, the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the MTA back in January 2010.

Looking at the NW corner of East 69th Street and 2nd Avenue
Source: Presentation by the MTA to the Community Board 8 Second Avenue Subway Task Force - 11/30/09 - p.67

The case, which was first reported by The Real Deal, argues that the ancillary buildings for the Second Avenue subway violate the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.

facing 235 East 69th Street (btw. 2nd & 3rd Avenues) - looking N

The primary concern for the residents of 233 East 69th Street is the that the MTA's current plan calls for the Ancillary building on this corner to be built out to the west property line; which would mean that some of the lot-line windows on the east face of 233 East 69th Street would be covered over by the west face of the MTA's new structure. (the red-line in the image above roughly shows the windows that would be lost.)

According to the docket for this case, the judge ruled on 4/14/10 that the defendants' motions to dismiss are adjourned until the U.S. FTA determines whether he MTA must prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Since this will take some time, the court has ordered that the parties should next meet in conference in about 2 months, on 6/11/10.

In the meantime it is not clear what impact this case will have on the project, besides the additional delay.


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

"Upper East Side fitness club declares bankruptcy"
By Adrianne Pasquarelli
Crain's NY Business - 4/15/10
The is the gym that's located on the SW corner of East 93rd Street and Second Avenue.

NYC OASIS map of the area
The NYC OASIS (Open Accessible Space Information System) web site provides a rich set of mapping and geographic data about the city of New York. I use it to quickly locate information about buildings in the city.

Robbins TBM Brochure
For people who wish to learn even more about tunnel boring machines.