Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tunneling under 2nd Ave Resumes

TBM Run No. 2 Now Underway

Update - 3/30/11
Two recent images of the TBM under 2nd Avenue
have now been added to this posting.


The MTA announced on its web site on Monday that the Second Avenue Subway Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) is once again on the move.

The machine will now mine the second (east) tunnel for the project - from a point about just south of 92nd Street down to 63rd Street - a length of 7,800 linear feet.

Near the end of this run, the machine will make a relatively tight westerly curve into the existing 63rd Street Station / Lexington Avenue station. (A map of the TBM's route can be found on this Google Map link.)

The connection at 63rd Street will be to a short piece of tunnel, known as a bellmouth, that was constructed at this station back in the late 1970s. (A diagram showing the 63rd Street bellmouth can be found on this link.)

During the first 200 feet of this run, the TBM will be mining through an area under Second Avenue that contractors had recently frozen solid. This was done intentionally so that the TBM could safely bore through the weak rock structure in this area.

The TBM previously mined 7,162 feet for the first (west) tunnel. The 485-ton, 450-foot-long machine began mining in June 2010 from 92nd Street to 65th Street and was then disassembled and pulled back to the TBM launch box at 92nd Street.

Phase I of the Second Avenue subway (i.e. the extension of Q Line service to the Upper East side) is currently scheduled to be completed by December 2016.


The MTA's press announcement can be found on this link:
Tunneling Mining for Second Avenue Subway Continues
MTA web site - 3/28/11


Update - 3/30/11

These two images, which were provide to me by e-mail late today, show the TBM as it is now positioned at the head of east tunnel.

In this image you are looking at the southern end of the Second Avenue subway TBM launch box. The soon to be minded east tunnel is on the left and the new west tunnel is on the right.

The head of the TBM is positioned inside a 40-foot starter tunnel that was blasted out about a year ago.

This zoom shot provides more detail. Look closely and you will see a number of interesting things. (left-click either image for a larger view)

As example -

Look on the left-hand side of the image and you will see an open umbrella that has been mounted on a yellow boom. Its hard to tell, but it looks like this umbrella has been setup to protect one of the total stations that keep the TBM lined up as it mines.

Also on the left, on the floor, you can see a temporary conveyor belt. Normally the muck from the TBM mining process is transported to waiting muck cars via a conveyor that runs down the middle of the machine.

The sunlight in these images is coming in through the glory hole in front of Delizia's Ristorante & Pizza on the SE corner of East 92nd Street and Second Avenue.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Contract C-26008

Recently, the bid results for the contract covering the second phase of the 86th Street station construction were made public - and here are the results.

Bid/Contract Number: C-26008 (also known as Contract 5B)
86th Street Cavern Mining & Heavy Civil Works

Vendor Name - Bid Amount
1. Skanska/Traylor JV - $301,860,000
2. Conti/J.H. Reid JV - $334,777,433
3. Shea/Kiewit/Schiavone - $391,717,426
4. Barnard/Judlau JV - $453,631,980
5. Granite/Yonkers/SK JV - $460,443,000

A source told me that MTA's engineers expected the bids for this contract to come in at around $400 million. As such, the MTA surely must be pleased that the competitive bidding process for this contract produced such a good bid.

The joint venture partners for the low bid are Skanska and Traylor Brothers, two major players in the market for civil engineering construction and infrastructure projects. Skanska already has extensive experience working on this project, as one of the three contractors building the SAS tunnels and launch box structure.

Contract C-26008 includes, among other things:
- mining of the 86th Street station cavern as well as mine shafts and adits for the entrances, ancillaries and cross passages;
- building demolition work at 83rd and 86th streets in advance of work on the construction of entrances and ancillaries;
- underpinning of existing buildings adjacent to the ancillaries and
Entrance 1;
- the construction of the permanent structure from station invert level to the top of ground level;
- restoration of the surface of Second Avenue and cross streets which will also include the restoration of roads, sidewalks, and soft and hard landscaping.

Further contract details can be found on this link to the MTA's Invitation For Bid Notice.

At the last meeting of the CB8 Second Avenue Subway Task Force, the MTA said that they expect to award this contract in April or May 2011 with construction to start sometime during the summer.

The MTA's Capital Program Dashboard, on the MTA's website, shows that a total of $325,643,165 is currently allocated for this particular contract:
2005-2009 Capital Program - Current Budget - $47,033,768
2010-2014 Capital Program - Current Budget - $278,609,397

What is not clear at the moment is (a) where all of the money for this contract will come from, since only the first two years of the 2010-2014 Capital Program are currently funded, and (b) how the recent lawsuit (to block the planned construction of station entrances on the north side of 86th Street - Yorkshire Towers LP vs. DOT et al) will affect this contract.


In other news, a group of students from Hunter College Department of Urban Affairs and Planning is working on a project, together with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office, to examine the subway construction on Second Avenue. The research will include the subway construction's impact on the community, lessons learned, etc.

The students are interviewing key figures involved in the project, and have already conducted one-on-one interviews with representatives of the Community Board 8 Second Avenue Subway Task Force, the MTA, Second Avenue Business Association and local senior centers.

They are also asking members of the community to take a few moments to fill out a short online survey so that they can gain additional insight in to the project.

A direct link to the survey can be found on this web link:
Hunter College Second Avenue Subway Survey

Please note that the deadline for participating in the survey is
Friday, March 18th.


This just in:
Mining of the east tunnel (i.e. TBM Run No. 2) is expected to commence during the last few days of March 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another View

It's safe to say that I'm not the only person taking pictures of the construction work on Second Avenue.

Often when I'm out walking, I observe people stopping to look at the ongoing construction work. They often pause to get a closer look at the machines, and men and women, who are working daily to build the new line. Many people bring along their kids, who never seem to tire of watching the complex operations.

Sometimes, I observe people using a mobile phone or camera to capture what they see. Why they do this is not always clear. Maybe to augment their memory, or maybe to share on sites like Facebook, or maybe just because they feel they should take a picture. Surely most of the shots they take won't be mounted in albums, or even printed!

I remember well the evening last spring when they lowered the cutterhead for the TBM down into the launch box. On that warm evening, almost everyone who was out and about stopped to watch what was happening, and take pictures -- including me.

Recently I discovered, on the Internet, that photographer David Beckerman (www.beckermanphoto.com) also has been out taking pictures of the scene on Second Avenue.

With his permission, I've posted a few of Beckerman's images for others to enjoy. (If you click on any image, you will be taken to David's blog where you can read more about a particular photograph.)

"Become Your Dream"
Photograph by David Beckerman

Photograph by David Beckerman

Photograph by David Beckerman

"Delivery on Second Avenue"
Photograph by David Beckerman

"2nd Avenue Subway, Scaffold"
Photograph by David Beckerman

Photograph by David Beckerman

Photograph by David Beckerman

Photograph by David Beckerman

Additional images, taken by other photographers, can be found in the Second Avenue Subway Construction Pool on the Flickr web site.

Going forward, I'm planning to incorporate yet more images from other photographers on this blog, so stay tuned.


Here's a link to MTA Capital Construction's 4Q2010 report to Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which was recently posted on the MTA's web site:

Second Avenue Subway, Phase I Quarterly Report to the FTA
MTA Capital Construction

This 27-page reports includes a great deal of detail on the project, as one might expect.

After looking through the report, I pulled out the following highlights that I thought readers of this blog might be interested in:
  • The forecast date for revenue service on the new line under Second Avenue remains December 30th, 2016.
  • The current schedule includes 176 calendar days of schedule contingency(*). This is an eight day improvement over the 168 day number detailed in the 3Q2010 FTA report.
  • The Final Design of the remaining contracts, for Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, has now been submitted by MTACC's Designer - which means that the project's design phase is now complete.

(*) Schedule contingency is planned extra duration in the schedule to allow for unexpected delays.

Here's a copy of the current Schedule and Proposed Schedule for the project:

Quarterly Reports to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Second Avenue Subway, Phase I, page 21

MTA Capital Construction


Elsewhere on the MTA's web site, I came across a new 24 month Look-ahead schedule for the project:

Capital Program Milestones 2010-2014, page 37
MTA Capital Construction
as of January 1, 2010


To shift gears - just a bit - away from the schedules and the plans and the charts...

Have you ever wondered what kind of job titles might apply to the men and women whose job it is to work down in the tunnels?

Here's a job title listing that I came across a few weeks ago for the so called Free Air Tunnel Workers, a.k.a. The Sandhogs.

Maintenance Men
Inside Muck Lock Tenders
Pump Men
Cement Finishers
Hydraulic Men
Shield Men
Monorail Operators
Motor Men
Conveyor Men
Powder Carriers
Pan Men
Chuck Tenders
Track Men
Cable Men
Hose Men
Grout Men
Gravel Men
Form Workers
Concrete Workers
Tunnel Laborers
Mole Nipper

(I'd love to know what a Mole Nipper does.)


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

Capital Investment Program Project Profile - 11/10
Second Avenue Subway - 11/2010
Federal Transit Administration