Friday, May 14, 2010

Inside the Launch Box: The Big Picture

This morning the MTA invited members of the press to join MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder as he officially started the Second Avenue subway tunnel boring machine (TBM).

I was part of the invited press group and I'm happy to present here a set of images from today's event.

Note that you can left-click on any image to view it in high-definition format.


Members of the press were instructed to assemble at East 92nd Street and 2nd Avenue at 9 a.m. - sharp. We were ushered into a temporary office that had been setup, where we were each issued a hard hat, an orange safety vest, a pair of gloves and a set of safety glasses. (We had to provide our own set of work boots.)

We were given a safety briefing and then instructed to proceed to the stairway entrance that would take us seven stories down to the floor of the launch box.

This shot was taken from the top of the stairway, some 60 feet above the floor below. What you see here is the front section of the now assembled TBM.

The holes that are shown, which are only about 50 feet deep, are the east and west starter tunnels. These two tunnels were blasted out of the bedrock over the winter.

The TBM will bore the west tunnel from 92nd Street to 63rd Street, then it will be backed out of the tunnel, back to the launch box. Then the TBM will bore the east tunnel, again from 92nd down to 63rd.

In this shot you see the trailing equipment (on the left), which includes the conveyor system that will transport the rock and other material (commonly referred to as muck) back to the launch box.

All of the rock that is removed by the TBM will be brought back to the launch box and then it will be transported to the surface using the vertical conveyor system that is being erected near the SE corner of East 93rd Street and 2nd Avenue.

"Inside the TBM Launch Box - a 360 degree view" (1:11)
The Launch Box via YouTube - 5/14/10

This shot was taken from inside the west starter tunnel - and you are looking at the face of the TBM's cutterhead.

A close-up view of the cutterhead - with the disk cutters clearly shown.

A close-up image of a steel disk cutter.

For this shot I was standing right in front of the cutterhead. The glory hole shown here is located near the SE corner of East 92nd Street and Second Avenue. The building that is visible through the hole is 1762 Second Avenue.

Here you can see members of the press interviewing various members of the MTA Capital Construction project team.

Here a photographer is shown taking a picture of the TBM cutterhead.

And here Tai Hernandez of Fox 5 News prepares to record a piece for broadcast later today.

You can watch Tai Hernandez's report here:"Second Avenue Subway Excavation Begins:
Tunnel Boring Machine Digs Phase 1" (2:31)
Fox 5 News - 5/14/10

More photographers at work. We actually had about 90 minutes to take pictures before the official ceremony started.

A few of the senior members of the project team have assembled here for a group photo.

Michael Horodniceanu, the President of MTA Capital Construction, is shown here (with his arm extended) and below answering questions for members of the press.

And here Benjamin Kabak, from the blog 2nd. Ave. Sagas, is interviewed by Andrew Siff of WNBC-TV News 4 New York.

You can watch Andrew Siff's report on this link:
"Second Ave. Subway Construction Starts Again" (1:37)
WNBC-TV News 4 New York - 5/14/10

Now we're just waiting for the dignitaries to arrive.

At about 10:30 a.m. the sky opened up and it started to pour, as you can see in this shot.

Here MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder is on the platform preparing to give a short speech and to officially start the TBM.

"The TBM Comes to Life" (0:13)The Launch Box via YouTube - 5/14/10

For the official ceremony, the TBM was set up so that the cutterhead rotated at a very slow speed. When the machine starts boring through rock the cutterhead will of course be rotating a bit faster, a rate of speed between 5 and 10 revolutions per minute.

After the ceremony Jay Walder took time to pose for a few official pictures.

And an operator of the TBM (this is the worker who threw the switch to start the machine) poses for a picture too.

This shot was taken from the stairway on the way out.

Finally this is the door that we passed through to leave to launch box to rejoin the masses at street level.


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

Down the rabbit hole, a tunnel boring machine comes alive
By Benjamin Kabak
2nd. Ave. Sagas - 5/14/10
Check out Ben's commentary and photos of today's event inside the launch box.

Second Avenue Subway TBM Launch Ceremony (2:11)
MTA via YouTube - 5/14/10



Trish said...

This is absolutely fascinating. Some of these photos remind of Jackson Pollock paintings. As to innovation, the ingenuity is amazing. To think the first tunnels were likely blasted or dug with relatively primitive tools. I was surprised that the actually drilling discs seem so small.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. You've come a long way in 3 years, keep up the good work!