Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 10, 2010

Newark, New Jersey - 1/20/10
Courtesy of MTA Capital Construction

This is a picture of the 22-foot diameter cutter head (minus the cutters) of the actual Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will be used to bore the tunnels for the Second Avenue subway.

The TBM that will be used on this project was originally manufactured by the Robbins Company of Solon, Ohio, about 30 years ago.

It is a so-called Main Gripper hard-rock machine that I'm told has recently been reconditioned to be “like new”. It was last used on the Fall River, Massachusetts Combined Sewer Overflow project and it was first used to dig the 63rd Street subway tunnel, in New York City, in the late 1970’s.

A gripper TBM braces itself against the rock using a set of gripper plates. Then, hydraulic cylinders push the cutter head into the rock tunnel face at extremely high pressure, grinding it with cutter rings.

The machine, which reportedly is being leased at a cost of $25 million, has 44 steel cutters on its face, weighs 485 tons, and is over 300 feet long when fully assembled.

When in operation it can tunnel at a rate of about 50 - 60 linear feet per day.

The machine was assembled, reconditioned and tested at Schiavone's location in Newark, New Jersey over the past year or so. It has been disassembled and will soon be shipped to the site where it will be reassembled in the launch box under Second Avenue between 92nd and 95th streets.

"Second Avenue Tunnel Boring Machine" (1:50)
By stagesynapses - - 12/19/09

This light-hearted video shows the Second Avenue subway TBM being demonstrated to various members of the project team at the Schiavone site in Newark.

And now we wait for the first indications that they have started to assemble the TBM for the 2nd Avenue subway inside the launch box.


btw. 92nd & 93rd streets - looking E - 4/7/10
Courtesy of jmp

This picture was sent to me by a viewer a few days ago. The image shows workers threading a large black rubber belt for the vertical conveyor system. The photographer said that the process looked like that of threading a tape through an open reel tape deck.

btw. 92nd & 93rd streets - looking W

These two images, which were taken on Saturday, provide a closer view of the rubber conveyor belt that will be used to transport rock and other debris, from the tunnel bring operation, to the surface.

93rd Street - looking N

At this location workers are building a roof between the two construction trailers that are parked at this location. I've been told that this set of structures is known as the "hog house" which in reality is a set of locker rooms where members of NYC Sandhogs Local 147 can change and shower.

Of particular note is the stack of orange blasting signs shown in this image. These signs have recently been taken down around the work site - which would suggest that the blasting of the starter tunnels inside the launch box has now been completed.

btw. 94th & 95th streets - looking SW

The contractors have moved a number of damaged sections of the concrete road decking to this location of the work site so that they can be repaired.

This is a close-up view of a damaged section of road decking.

in front of 1834 2nd Avenue (btw. 94 & 95th streets) - looking N

In the past few weeks the MTA's contractors have re-installed access doors to a number of basements on 2nd Avenue, between 94th and 95th streets.

When the doors were removed back in 2007 merchants in the area lost street access to their basements and they were also prohibited by the DOB from using their basements at all (because of the loss of a second means of egress.)

With the doors now re-installed the affected merchants can once again use their basements - but, apparently they cannot use these doors to access their basements from the street; they can only use them to get out of their basements in an emergency.


Down in the 80s the work zone has been shifted back to the west side of Second Avenue, as can be seen in the following set of images.

83rd Street - near the NE corner - looking W

83rd Street - NE corner - looking NW

85th Street - NE corner - looking SW


A resident of 300 East 74th Street sent me a link to video that he made of a recent controlled blast that occurred at Second Avenue subway 72nd Street shaft location.

"2nd Ave. Subway Blasting @ 74th & 2nd" (0:21)
4/1/2010 - ca. 10:30 a.m. EDT
By Matt Castellan

The video was shot from the 29th floor of a building that is located on the SE corner of 74th Street and Second Avenue. In the video the camera is pointed in a southerly direction.


1742 Second Avenue (btw. 90th and 91st)

This location, which was Setlight's Seafood Grill & Oysters, closed in late March 2010, after being open for just 6 months.

91st Street - NE corner

The MTA has recently posted a new set of "Shop Second Avenue" posters at various locations around the work site. Unfortunately a number of the establishments that are listed as being "open during the construction" are no longer in business.


In other news,
  • The "bid opening" date for Bid Number C-26007 has been pushed back about a month to 4/22/10, for reasons that I do not know. This bid covers major part of the 72nd Street station, including the demolition of existing buildings, relocation of utilities and station cavern mining/lining & heavy civil work.
  • The MTA announced that they will hold a public hearing [on 4/20/10] pursuant to Article 2 of the New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law on the proposed acquisition of permanent & temporary property interests & the termination of rights for certain sidewalk encroachments SAS Contracts 3, 4B, 5A, & 5B. A copy of the official MTA Notice can be found on this link.


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

"The Stone-Eating Worms"
New York Magazine - 3/28/10

A launch box and art for a subway in progress
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 3/29/10

"Subway Construction Raises Blasting, Rodent Questions"
Our Town - 3/31/10

The futureNYCSubway: 2nd Ave Subway Future
By Andrew Lynch
Vanshnookenraggen (a blog) - 4/1/10

Second Ave. Subway spared from state-wide construction shutdown
2nd Ave. Sagas - 4/1/10

The shape of Tunnel Boring Machines to come
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 4/9/10

NYC Tracks (a blog)
Written and edited by students of the
City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism


Anonymous said...

Your blog is amazing. To think I just discovered it after living on top (and listening) to this thing for so many years.

Question: now that material will soon began to be removed in earnest, any plans as to what will be done with the rocks and dirt? Will it be filled in to create more land ala Waterfront Plaza?

Thank you

Ben said...

My sources tell me that all of the material from this project (i.e. rock, dirt, etc.) is being trucked to an unused quarry somewhere in Pennsylvania.