Sunday, April 24, 2011

Underground at 92nd Street

The images that follow were taken inside the TBM Launch Box on Thursday morning April 7th. On this day I joined a small group of press photographers who had been assembled by the MTA Media Relations office to view the underground work site at 92nd Street.

The images below were shot intentionally in black and white. Shooting in black and white allows the photographer (me) and the viewer (you) to focus on the shapes and form of what has been photographed without being distracted by color.

Further on in this posting you will find links to two sets of color images that were taken by other photographers on this day.


Looking north from the stairwell that leads from Second Avenue down to the floor of the launch box.


The tunnel on the right is the 22-foot diameter west tunnel of the Second Avenue subway. This tunnel so far has been mined to a point just south of 65th Street.

The temporary narrow gauge tracks that you see in these images are used by the muck train that is being used on the project. This special train is used to transport mined rock, equipment and men through the tunnels.


Another shot from the floor of the launch box.


A few feet inside the entrance to the newly mined west tunnel, looking south.


From the same location inside the west tunnel - now looking north back towards the launch box.


This is a shot of the east tunnel. The TBM has just started its drive south and, when this shot was taken, the machine has bored only a few hundred feet of the tunnel.


A closer shot of the opening that leads to the west tunnel.


A conveyor belt that was being used to transport the mined rock back to the launch box.


In this image you can see the rock and other material that is produced by the TBM when it is mining. (The machine was not mining when we were at the site.)


A collection of tools and equipment used by the sandhogs.


The sandhog in this image, the one with the lighted blow torch, is about to do some welding or cutting.


Two other sets of images from this day can be found on these links:

"Second Avenue Subway"
By Patrick J. Cashin/MTA
A set of 26 images - 4/7/11

"Inside the Second Ave. Subway"
By Benjamin Kabak/2nd Ave Sagas
A set of 56 images - 4/7/11


Courtesy of the MTA

This image was not taken on April 7th. Instead it was taken sometime in early March.

Here you can see the head (front) of the TBM which in this shot has been positioned at the opening of the starter tunnel for TBM Run No. 2.

Note that the cutter disks have not yet been remounted onto the cutterhead when this image was taken.


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

"Next Second Ave contract bid result"
By Paula Wallis
TunnelTalk - 4/11

Notice of Limitation on Claims
Federal Transit Administration
Department of Transportation
The Federal Register - 4/7/11

"The view from inside the Second Ave. Subway"
By Benjamin Kabak
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 4/7/11

"2nd Avenue Subway"
By Will Bredderman - 4/6/11

"Second Avenue Street Damage Causes Havoc for Residents and Cars"
By Amy Zimmer - 4/11/11

"2nd Avenue subway construction buries local small businesses"
By Justin Martin
Crain's New York Business - 4/24/11

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Four Years On

Update - 4/17/11:
A link has now been added to a download site for the Science Channel's recent program: Build It Bigger: "Rebuilding New York City's Subway".


When I started preparing this posting, it occurred to me that almost four years has passed since I started this blog with this posting back on April 14, 2007.

A lot has clearly changed on Second Avenue over the past four years, and one can be sure that a lot more will change before the first train rolls under Second Avenue in 2016.

In the meantime I'm going to return to my traditional blog posting format - a survey of the work zone on Second Avenue, through the lens of my camera.


First off, a visit to the work site between 69th and 72nd Street.

btw. 69th and 70th streets

In this image you can see one of two shafts that is being used for the construction of the 72nd Street station cavern. The worker in the yellow protective cage is about to be lowered into the shaft.


Another view of the same shaft, from a different angle. In the foreground of this image is the muck bin, which is the location where the shot rock (the waste rock from the blasting operation below) is piled before it is loaded onto trucks to be taken away.


A close-up image of three workers being raised out of the shaft.

70th Street - looking S

I didn't hang around the work site long enough last Friday to experience a blast. But someone posted a video of one on YouTube, and here it is:

"2nd Ave subway construction" YouTube video (0:25) - 3/29/11 Posted by "thereffers" The work site that is shown in this video is just north of 72nd Street. Before the blast, workers covered the shaft with large sections of steel. The steel acts as a blast shield which prevents rocks and dust from flying out of the shaft. The blast shield also reduces the amount of sound that is produced by the blast. :: 4/1/11 91st Street - looking N These are hoses that were being used during the ground freeze operation. (The ground had to be frozen under Second Avenue in this area due to the weak rock structure. Once the ground was frozen, the TBM was then able to mine this section of Tunnel No. 2). The flexible hoses (shown above and below) you see here were, until very recently, were used to circulate chilled brine through the ground in this area. 4/1/11 A close up view of the valves at the top of each of the tubes. 4/1/11 In this image you can see a section of the TBM trailing gear that is waiting to be lowered into the launch box. :: Up at 97th Street, I found a team from Skanska Underpining & Foundation working to build part of the excavation support system at the Ancillary No. 2 work site. On the day that I was there, the contractor was building a section of a secant pile wall. 4/1/11 just south of 97th Street - looking W (This is the former site of the Century Lumber yard.) 4/1/11 The shaft of the secant pile is bored using a larger auger and then concrete is pumped into the shaft ... using a process that would take more words to explain than I have time this evening. (Click this link to see how this process works.) The workers here are in the process of removing sections of tremie pipe from the pile that is under construction. 4/1/11 In this image the workers are pumping fresh concrete into the bored pile. 4/1/11 Workers here are preparing to remove a section of the shaft casing. 4/1/11 The shaft casing has now been lifted, and the workers here are disconnecting this section of casing. 4/1/11 This section of shaft is the moved to the storage area on the left. Clearly this is a very messy job, whether it's raining or not. :: The images that follow were taken about 3 weeks ago. At that time I didn't feel that I had a good set of images for a posting so I decided to save them for later use here. 3/18/11 70th Street - looking N A view of the two-story construction office that has been set up on the eastern side of the avenue. 3/18/11 73rd Street - looking S A delivery to the work site. 3/18/11 73rd Street at the NE corner A station for measuring and recording the sound level and particulate mater in the air at the work site. 3/18/11 96th Street - looking S A newly installed 36" water main. 3/18/11 A survey team (2 men) at work. 3/18/11 btw. 96th & 97th streets - looking W A pair of large Liebherr crawler cranes wait to be assembled for work in the area. 3/18/11 96th Street - looking S "Notice: Keep Area Clean." Wishful thinking. :: A frustrated resident on Second Avenue makes an attempt, with this video on YouTube, to get the MTA to do something about the noise being produced by the work on Second Avenue. "NYC MTA Second Avenue Subway Construction Disturbance Upper East Side" YouTube video (8:47) - 3/31/11 Posted by "FedUp111111" (The video was shot inside a building located near 83rd Street and Second Avenue.) :: A Programing Note: If you're interested in the Second Avenue subway project, be sure to have a look at the The Science Channel's production of "Build It Bigger: New York City 2nd Avenue Subway / East Side Access". This 44-minute program, hosted by Danny Forster, looks at three of MTA Capital Construction's largest projects: the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, and the Fulton Street Transit Center. A short clip from the program has been embedded below: "Falling to Pieces" (1:43) Build It Bigger, Season 5, Episode 2: (a look inside Second Avenue subway Tunnel No. 1) New York City 2nd Avenue Subway / East Side Access The Science Channel Three additional video clips from the program can be found on this link. Update - 4/17/11 This episode was broadcast on The Science Channel on 4/8/11. You may be able to view a subsequent broadcast on cable by checking their currently posted schedule. Alternatively, you can now view -- or download -- the full episode from (for $1.99) on this link: Build It Bigger Season 5, Ep. 1 "Rebuilding New York City's Subway" I watched the program this evening after I figured out how to download the episode. The program is really interesting, on many levels, and is well worth the $1.99 purchase price. Anyone working on these projects should download the program so they can show their family and friends the work they're doing to expand New York City's transit system. Everyone should be impressed after seeing the work close-up, through the eyes of Danny Forster and his team at Build it Bigger. ::::: Here's a listing of the recent additions to the right-hand column of The Launch Box "MTA's Signs Off the Rails" By Andrew Grossman The Wall Street Journal - 4/6/11