Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Heads Up!

What follows is a story about an incident that occurred on Friday, August 6th, near the corner of East 93rd and Second Avenue.  Because the events in the story happened to me -- of all people! -- I have written about this in the first-person narrative.

I would have posted the story earlier but until recently I was away on vacation in Quebec.


On Friday morning, August 6th, I left my apartment at about 7:30 a.m. to walk to the local cleaners on East 93rd Street. 

My walk took me past the vertical elevator (shown below) that was in operation at the time. [This machine is used to transport the spoils, also known as muck, from the TBM mining operation that is underway below Second Avenue.]


As I walked past the machine, I spotted a small 2 inch piece of gray rock on the sidewalk in front of the Subway sandwich shop at 1776 Second Avenue.

I picked up the rock and examined it -- and then decided that it surely must have come from the subway mining operation. I put the piece of rock in my bag and walked on.

Before continuing on to work, I decided to return to the same location to look for any additional rock samples.

I was standing on the fence line with my back to the machine when, all of a sudden, I heard a loud "thump." I was startled by the sound and, when I looked down at the ground, I noticed a larger and heavier piece of rock (shown below) that had just landed right next to me on the sidewalk!

Length - 3 1/2 inches  /  Weight - 13 ounces

This second and larger piece of rock apparently had become caught in the machinery, and then was ejected from the high speed conveyor belt.  The rock had flown through the air and then bounced off the top of a green storage container at this location. It then landed on the sidewalk beside me.

As I picked up this new piece of rock, I realized just how lucky I was that the rock had not hit me in the head, instead landing "safely" just beside me on the sidewalk.

I put this new piece of rock in my bag and moved away from the fence line.

As I continued on my way to work, I looked down the lane where the trucks were being loaded with muck.  I made a mental note that the muck that was now being loaded into the trucks included larger chunks of rock (like the one that almost hit me).  Most of the muck being taken out of the launch box before this day was of a finer, almost powdery, consistency.

As soon as I got to my office, I called Claudia Wilson, the MTA's Community Liaison for the project, to report what had just happened.  She said that she would contact the construction manager right away.

By the time I returned home that evening, a large piece of blue material (shown in the images below) had been draped around the top of the vertical elevator structure.

One could assume that this blue material was set up to keep stray rocks from being ejected in the direction of the sidewalk.


An aerial view

If you look closely at the brownish-orange storage container, in the images above and below, you can see that there are at least a dozen rocks of significant size on the roof of the container -- which would suggest to me that the vertical elevator had been a ejecting rocks for some time now.


In the last several days, people who live above this area have told me that all of the rocks on the top of this container have since been removed -- I assume by the contractor.

One could logically wonder why no sidewalk sheds have been set up near this machine to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk. However, maybe it is simply because the NYC building code does not require them in this situation.  At the very least, the fence line could be moved back further away from the machine by a few more feet.

I, for one, will now take a wider path around this machine in the future.


In other news, the MTA reported to me earlier this week a few details about the location of the TBM under Second Avenue.

As of last Friday, August 13th, the TBM has mined a distance of 1,264.7 feet - which by my estimate (using the Google Maps distance measurement tool) would put it 50 feet south of East 87th Street.

I've also been told that the TBM mined a total of 87 feet on August 12th, which is the maximum achieved production to date.


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

Second Ave. Subway merch: A tee for the T
2nd Ave. Sagas - 8/3/10

Synopsis of Determination and Finding Pursuant to Article 2 of the New York Eminent Domain Procedure Law - Contracts 3, 4 and 5 of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway
via the New York Post
Metropolitan Transportation Authority - 7/20/10
Oddly, as of today I have been unable to find a copy of this Official Notice on the MTA's web site.


Peter said...

Glad you weren't hurt. Too bad they didn't let you keep that hardhat they gave you for the underground tour.

It would have come in handy.


Anonymous said...

What time are they allowed to work until? It is now 9:30 pm and it is unbearably loud!

The Launch Box said...

At street level the MTA's contractors are only permitted to work until 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

ConEd, Verizon and Empire City Subway - who are also working to support various aspects of the project - can work at any time they wish.

If you have a specific concern I would recommend that you call Claudia Wilson, the MTA's Public Liason for the project, on 212 792-9716.