Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fixing up 2nd Avenue

MTA works to make good on its promise
to fix up the neighborhood on Second Avenue.

East 92nd Street, SE corner - looking N

The image above may appear to be unremarkable. However, it shows exactly what the MTA has in mind when they say they intend to "improve the pedestrian experience on Second Avenue."

In this image you can see:

- all new fencing, which is as straight as an arrow;
- newly painted storefront rolling gate doors;
- an unobstructed 7 foot 9 foot wide sidewalk; and
- freshly painted and straight crosswalk lines.

When you consider what much of this area has endured in the past three years, these are rather dramatic changes.

It was only several months ago, in this same spot, that a vagrant regularly staked out this corner under what was then a littered and unlit sidewalk shed. (I'm not exactly sure if the vagrant is still around as much or whether he has now shifted to a new area.)

92nd Street, SE corner - looking S

And a view in the other direction, showing an area of the launch box construction site that has not been yet been revamped.

btw. 92nd & 93rd streets - looking S

Another view of the incredibly straight fence that has been erected in this block.

93rd Street, SE corner - looking NW

Up on 93rd Street, they've recently painted the trim on the Sandhog's "Hog House" (their changing and shower rooms) the color blue.

94th Street, NE corner - looking W

Yet another example of newly painted and very straight crosswalk lines.


91st Street, SE corner - looking SW

Work continues in and around 91st Street. Here, the MTA contractors prepare to freeze the ground in advance of the 2nd TBM run on the east side of Second Avenue (projected for early 2011).

91st Street - looking N

A maze of insulated pipes and tubes can be seen in the image above.


97th Street, 50 feet west of the NW corner - looking S

In this area of the job site, the MTA's contractors continue their work to stabilize the north foundation of 1873 Second Avenue with a technique called Jet Grouting.

This lot is the location where Ancillary Building No. 2 for the 96th Street station will eventually be built.


When I walked by this location last Saturday, this machine was being used to remove bucket loads of what looked like a slurry material, from the foundation of the north side of the building at 1873 Second Avenue.


1815 Second Avenue (near the SW corner of 94th)
(former Rainbow Hardware location)

At this location, the MTA's contractor E.E. Cruz-Tully JV is demolishing part of the interior of this building to make way for the construction of the Entrance No. 1 for the 96th Street station.

btw. 85th & 86th Streets - looking E

The newly planted trees near the historic Heidelberg Restaurant would suggest that utility relocation work on the east side of this block is now complete. This is big news for the residents who live in this area.

84th Street - looking S

Down in the 80's, the MTA's contractor J. D'Annunzio & Sons, Inc. is continuing their work to relocate area utility lines, ducts and pipes.

83rd Street - looking N

A view of their active work zone between 83rd and 84th streets. In this image, the contractor is excavating a new trench for Empire City Subway.

82nd Street - NE corner

Someone told me that this type of engraved street marking was installed so that riders of the former IRT Second Avenue Line would know which street they were crossing. (Maybe a reader of this blog can confirm this?)


The MTA recently released (on their web site) a copy of the most recent MTA Capital Construction report to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway Project.

The report, which is linked below, covers the period July - September 2010.

MTA Capital Construction Report to the FTA - 3Q2010
Second Avenue Subway, Phase 1

Page 18 of the report.

Of particular note is this statement:
"The SAS Integrated Project Schedule (IPS) continues to forecast an SAS Revenue Service Date (RSD) of 30-Dec-2016 with 168 calendar days of schedule contingency."

When the project started back in 2007, the MTA had planned for 186 calendar days of schedule contingency in the overall plan. (Note: Fewer days available for schedule contingency reduces the likelihood that this new subway service will go into service by December 2016.)

But at some point in October, after the 3Q2010 report was published, the project's schedule contingency was reduced to 138 days.

One could wonder if the slower than expected progress of the TBM, due to the poor rock conditions under Second Avenue, will continue to erode the available schedule contingency days in the plan.

The report also showed that the projected "substantial completion" date of each of the active SAS contracts has slipped by an additional 1-2 months since the last quarterly report to the FTA.

Another notable point in the report is the significant number of accidents in and around the 86th Street utility relocation job site. To quote the report:
The OSHA recordable incidents ratio for accidents on this contract is 8.9.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics/ National Industry Average is 4.2.

The OSHA Lost Time Accidents ratio for this contract is 8.9.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics/National Industry Average is 2.2.
The other contract sites on Second Avenue appear to be safer places to work, according to the statistics quoted in the report.


It was reported last week that the tunnel boring machine approaching 76th Street.

The TBM mining operations just north of this area have been impacted by two major factors: (1) the poor quality of the rock in this area, and (2) a significant amount of gushing ground water (underground streams).


Community Board 8 issued the following letter, via e-mail, a few days ago:

The letter states that the MTA, with the help of Community Board 8, is soliciting comments regarding the materials and finishes of the planned Ancillary Facilities for the Second Avenue Subway.

Here a link to the presentation that is referenced in the letter:

And here is a link that will direct you to the page on the MTA's web site were comments can be submitted:
(select MTA Service = Planning Studies // Second Avenue Subway)

Comment can also be sent via e-mail to

Comments are due by December 15, 2010 early January, 2011.


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

Notice of Limitation on Claims Against
Proposed Public Transportation Projects
Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT
Federal Register Volume 75, Number 224 - 11/22/10
Pages 71181-71182
A notice announcing final environmental actions taken by the FTA for the Second Avenue Subway.

Report of the Lieutenant Governor on
New York State’s Transportation Infrastructure

As prepared by Richard Ravitch,
Lt. Governor of the State of New York

Note in particular this section of the report:
The $28 billion, five-year MTA Plan set out in October, 2009 faces a gap of at least $10 billion for its final three years. The MTA is in the middle of its largest system expansion in more than four decades, and there is now legitimate worry that the MTA will have great difficulty in finding resources sufficient to complete its current slate of mega-projects, including the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Railroad’s East Side Access Project.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Drilling on 2nd Avenue

When I walked by the work site this past Saturday, SSK Constructors (which is a joint venture of Schiavone Construction, J.F. Shea Construction, and Kiewit Infrastructure Corp) and its subcontractor were hard at work drilling out core samples of the rock under Second Avenue.

The core samples are being taken in anticipation of the start of mining operations for the 72nd Street station cavern.

69th Street
A mobile drilling rig (the blue machine) is shown in this image.

69th Street - looking N
The liquid (which is called a flushing medium) in the pan is used to cool the drilling bit, lubricate the core, remove the loose bits of rock, and help stabilize the hole. It is some combination of water, soluble oil and/or drilling mud.

A closeup view of the shaft (called a core drill string) which is seen turning at a high rate of speed in this image.

70rd Street - looking S
A second drilling rig in this work zone can be seen in the center of the image.

Note the sound level meter that has been mounted on the wooden pole on the left in this image. Its interesting to see that permanent sound level meters have been setup by the MTA's contractor at this particular work site. Permanent sound level meters allow the contractor to measure and record the sound level over a long period of time.

btw. 72nd & 73rd streets - looking NW
A third drilling rig is shown in this image, working just south of 73rd Street.

The wooden boxes shown on the left in this shot (below the taxi) are used to transport the core samples from the job site.

84th Street - looking S (west side of 2nd Avenue shown)
A view of the work site at this location. Workers here are in the process of replacing a 48" sewer main.

87th Street - looking S
Work at this location on Second Avenue is taking place in the center of the street now. Traffic lanes can be seen on the right and the left of the active work zone.

91st Street - looking N
A view of the freeze pipes that have been installed just north of 91st Street. Each of these pipes will soon be connected the so called freeze plant that has been setup on 92nd Street.

A closer view of the top of one of the freeze pipes.

93rd Street - looking S
This hand drawn sign was apparently installed in the past week or so.

btw. 94th & 95th Streets - looking S
The MTA's contractor S3 Tunnel Constructors has recently started to paint their work site structures blue, as can be seen in this image.

I have to assume that this is part of the MTA's announced plan to "improve the pedestrian experience" on Second Avenue.

btw. 94th & 95th Streets
Late afternoon shadows cast across a small section of the work site.


The MTA opened the bids for the
63rd Street Station Rehabilitation contract
on 11/4/10. (this is Contract C-26006).

The low bid, of $176,450,000, was submitted by Judlau Contracting Inc., of College Point, NY.

Here's a copy of the bid results that were posted on the MTA's web site:

Bid Number: C-26006
Bid Open Date: 11/4/2010

Vendor Name / Bid Amount
Bid Total Count: 6


In other procurement news, the MTA has now advertised the 86th Street Station Cavern Mining and Heavy Civil Structure contract (as Solicitation C-26008) using an Invitation for bid (IFB) process. This bid is currently scheduled to be opened on 12/21/10

The IFB Notice for Solicitation C-26008 says:
This Contract includes the 86th Street Station cavern and mine shafts and adits for the entrances, elevator shaft,electrical shafts, ancillaries, cross passages, underpinning of existing structures and cut and cover excavation;

the work will be performed after a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) tunnel (constructed under Contract C-26002) has been bored through the station;

perform building demolition work at 83rd and at 86th Streets in advance of work on the construction of entrances and ancillaries;

underpin existing buildings adjacent to the ancillaries and Entrance 1;

mine the 86th St. Station cavern, and mine shafts and adits for the entrances, ancillaries, and cross passages;

install temporary rock support systems as work proceeds;

install the permanent structural liner in the cavern, entrances, and ancillaries;

the permanent structural work includes construction of the station invert slab, exterior walls, and roof arch in the cavern;

supply permanent plumbing, electrical, architectural precast concrete elements and architectural embedments and incorporate these into the cast concrete;

construct the structural shell exteriors of Ancillary 1 and Entrance 1 at 83rd St. and Ancillary 2 and Entrance 2 at 86th Street;

the permanent structure from station invert level to top of ground level; supply and install temporary mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems including ventilation, drainage and lighting as necessary to conduct the Work and restore the surface of Second Avenue and cross streets which also includes the restoration of roads, sidewalks, and soft and hard landscaping.


The New York State Senate Standing Committees On Corporations, Authorities and Commissions has announced, with this Notice of Public Hearing, that they will meet in New York City on November 30th at 1 p.m. to review the Second Avenue Subway project.


Last Reported Location of the TBM
btw. 77th and 78th streets
as of Friday, October 29th

TBM Run No. 1 (west tunnel)
92nd Street to 65th Street
7,200 linear feet
40 foot starter tunnel
3,737 feet mined w/TBM to date
3,423 feet to run

October 2010 TBM Mining Data:
Distance mined: 757 linear feet
TBM mining days: 21
Avg. distance per day: 36 feet

I've been told that the TBM production was below the planned 50-feet-per-day goal due to poor geological conditions along this section. The poor rock conditions require the contractor to setup steel rings in the tunnel as the TBM progresses forward.


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

"2nd Ave. Subway Affecting Old Buildings" (5:15)
Reported by Ernie Anastos
Fox 5 News - 10/16/10
Includes a lengthy debate between Benjamin Kabak, of the 2nd Ave. Sagas subway blog, and Marcelo Ronchini, the owner of Nina's Argentinian Pizzeria.

"2nd Avenue Subway Explained to First Graders"
By Michael Grynbaum
The New York Times - 10/31/10

"The Second Avenue Subway - It's a Man Thing"
By Kathleeenwng
Letter from New York - 10/21/10

"State Senate to Hold Subway Hearing"
By Dan Rivoli
Our Town - 11/11/10


The time-lapse video embedded below documents a 3 1/2 days light rail construction project -- in 12 minutes and 50 seconds.

The video obviously has nothing to do with the Second Avenue subway project. I posted it here because I thought that it was neat way to show just how much work goes into a complex construction project.

"Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction"
By Ken Murphy / via Vimeo