Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brilliant Morning Light on Second Avenue

As we turn the calendar from August to September, we know that summer is nearing an end. As the days get shorter, the shadows along Second Avenue are only getting longer. Still, the brilliant morning light enhances the many bright colors found throughout the work site.

On a recent Friday morning, I set out as early as I could bear in order to capture the ongoing construction work, and the shadows of the rising sun over the active work site.

The MTA's contractors on Second Avenue start work at 7 a.m. I arrived shortly thereafter, and this is what I saw through the lens of my camera.

97th Street - looking S

Workers at this location are in the process of excavating a section of slurry wall trench using the machine shown in this image. The trench will be excavated to a depth of about 100 feet.

btw. 96th and 97 streets - looking NE

Another view of the same machine - in which you can clearly see the hole where the trench is being excavated.

The yellow hose in the foreground is used to deliver a slurry mixture into the trench as they dig. The slurry, which is a mixture of clay and water, keeps the walls of the trench from collapsing.

btw. 95th & 96th streets - looking NE

Once the trench has been excavated, a 100-foot long rebar cage, like the one shown above, will be carefully lowered into the hole.

just south of 96th street - in front of the Rite Aid - looking NE

After that, workers will lower a long tremie pipe into the newly dug trench. Fresh concrete will be poured into the pipe so that the trench can be filled with concrete - from the bottom up. As the concrete rises, the slurry mixture is pumped out so that it can be recycled and used again.

on 95th Street, about 100 feet to the west of 2nd Avenue - looking E

At other locations on the job site, workers were in the process of assembling new rebar cages.

Workers in the image above are just about to start building a new cage on top of the wooden frame shown in this image.

Note the worker (with his protective helmet) who will soon start welding sections of rebar together at this location.

just south of 97th Street - looking NW

Workers in this image are wrapping sections of rebar using heavy steel wire. Basically they are wrapping the sections together so that they don't move when the cage is lifted and lowered into the trench.

btw. 95th & 96th streets - looking E

At a different location on the site, a second machine can be seen excavating another section of slurry wall trench.

87th Street - looking SW

At this location, workers are excavating an access shaft that will be used during the construction of the new 86th Street station. The excavation here is being performed using a technique known as controlled blasting.

Even though the blasts are controlled, they are still quite loud.

btw. 86th & 87th streets - looking W

Another view of the same shaft site. In the lower right corner of the image, you can see a rock drill (which was incredibly loud) boring holes into the bedrock. The explosive charges will be lowered into these holes.


A closer view of the rock drill. If you enlarge this image and look very closely, you can see that the workers are, of course, wearing ear protection.

83rd Street, just to the east of 2nd Avenue - looking W

A view of the site where the other 86th Street station access shaft is being built.

83rd Street - looking E

Another view of the same shaft location, from a different angle.

73rd Street, NE corner

On the left in this image, you can see a environmental monitoring station. At this location, the contractor appears to be monitoring both the sound level and the quality of the air.

79th Street, NE corner - looking SW

Workers at this location, in the middle of Second Avenue, are operating a pumping station that is being used to deliver concrete down into the west tunnel below. The concrete is being used to line the walls of the new tunnel.

69th Street - looking N

A view of the MTA's Muck House between 69th and 72nd street on Second Avenue.

This nondescript temporary structure houses a set of electric winches and skips that are being used to transport muck from the station cavern below to waiting dump trucks at street level.

An identical structure, which can be seen in the distance in this image, has also been put up between 72nd & 73rd streets.

The workers on top of the structure appear to be installing sound insulating material under the roof.


Another view of the work taking place on the roof.

Note the reflections of bright sunlight on the building and the muck house, above and below.


A closer view of the insulation being installed under the roof line.

69th Street - looking N

A view into the muck structure at this location, through the south entrance.

The workers here are lowering a [red] box of supplies(?) into the shaft.

70th Street - looking W

A large section of ventilation pipe is carefully walked down the street.

72nd Street - looking N

A view into the muck structure at this location, through the south entrance. The orange device in the foreground is a mobile ventilation fan.

Workers in this image are lowering one of the skips down into the access shaft.

73rd Street - looking S

A view into the muck structure at this location, through the north entrance.

If you look carefully, you can see rock and other material (i.e. muck) being dropped into the waiting dump truck. The worker on the ladder would appear to be checking to see that they don't load too much material into the truck.


A sign posted on an entrance to the muck house.

72nd Street, NE corner - looking N

A view of the deep cavern that now exists between the muck house and the residential building on the right.

One could assume that the exterior walls of the muck houses have been painted an off-white color so as to reflect as much natural light as possible into this corridor.

73rd Street - looking S

A view of a dump truck that has just entered the structure so that it can be loaded.

73rd Street

This hand-made sign announces the final performance [on Second Avenue] of Gary Russo, the now famous singing ironworker.

At last count, his original video has been viewed by over one million people on YouTube.

63rd Street, btw. Lexington & 3rd - looking E

At this location, on the north side of the street, workers are excavating part of the plaza so that they can access the existing station below.

63rd Street & 3rd Avenue, SW corner - looking S

A survey team at work, at 7:10 a.m.

Existing Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station
Track 1 - Southbound
Looking W

Passengers waiting for a southbound F train.

This station is in the process of being completely renovated as part of the project. The renovation includes the activation of a set of long dormant tracks on the other side of the orange wall, and the opening of four new station entrances on 3rd Avenue.


A Note About the Current Location
of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM):

As of 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning (9/13/11), the TBM was 296 linear feet away from its final destination: the lower level of the stub cavern at the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station. This would put it somewhere near the middle of the city block that is bordered by 63rd & 64th streets and 3rd & Lexington avenues.

With good rock (i.e. rock without fractures, so they can mine 50 to 70 feet a day) they most likely will [now] break through into the stub cavern sometime early next week.

Please stand by for further news...

Update - 9/20/11
As of 7 a.m. today the TBM had just 77 feet left to mine.


Off Topic:
The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

I know that this is off-topic, but I felt compelled to include a few links here to mark the passing of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

The four pieces that I selected, all from The New York Times, highlight the men and women who are working to rebuild the World Trade Center site.

"The Workers"
By Fred Conrad, Nick Harbaugh and Andrea Rice
The New York Times - 9/8/11
"The World Trade Center site employs more than 3,200 workers. At present, it is the largest construction project in the United States. These portraits [146 in total] and audio narratives are a testament to their myriad skills and talents."

"Ironworkers of the Sky"
By Randy Kennedy
The New York Times - 9/4/11

"Raising High Steel Atop 1 World Trade Center"
By Damon Winter
The New York Times - 9/4/11
Eleven black-and-white photographs by the Damon Winter, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the newspaper.

"Reaching the Heights"
By Dean Robinson
The New York Times - 9/2/11
A behind-the-scenes look at how Damon Winter got his pictures from the top of 1 World Trade Center.