Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cranes of Second Avenue

On April 4th, a Tuesday evening, one worker was killed and four others injured when a crane collapsed on the work site of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's No. 7 line extension project.

The crane that collapsed, a 24-year old Manitowoc model 4100 crawler crane, was owned and operated by Yonkers Contracting Company.

This cause of this tragic accident, which is being being investigated by the NYC Department of Buildings, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the NYPD, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has yet to be conclusively determined.

For this posting, I decided that it might be interesting to have a closer look at the many crawler cranes that are being used as part of the Second Avenue subway construction project.

What I found when I took my "Second Avenue crawler crane census" was that almost every crawler crane was built by the German firm Liebherr, which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of construction machinery.

While I am not an expert in these machines, it would appear to me that almost all of the crawler cranes being used on the Second Avenue project are, at the moment, either brand new or just a few years old at most.

It has been a while since I have posted a fresh set of images so let's get started since there is a lot to report.

97th Street, NW corner - looking NE

The 1st crawler crane that I came across was a Liebherr LR 1160. This machine is owned by the New York-based firm Bay Crane.

97th Street, SE corner - looking SW

At this location, the contractor E.E. Cruz-Tully Construction is in the process of building the exterior walls for the tunnel that will connect the new 96th Street station with the existing tunnels at 99th Street.

The pipes standing on end, in the rack, are known as tremie pipes.  These pipes are used to deliver fresh concrete to the bottom of each new section of slurry wall.

btw. 96th and 97th Streets - looking W

The 2nd crawler crane that I came across was a Liebherr LTR 1100. This machine, which has a telescopic boom that can extended to a maximum of 171 ft, appears to me to be "just out of the box", with not a single scratch or mark on it.

I have no idea what one of these machine costs new but, if you are interested, I found a used 2007 LTR 1100 going for $850,000 on

94th Street, SE corner - looking S

The 3rd crawler crane that I found was a Liebherr HS 855.  This particular machine has been outfitted with what they call a hydraulic slurry wall grab (partially visible on the left of the image). It apparently is owned by the firm Nicholson Construction

94th Street, SE corner - looking S

At this location, I came across this odd looking machine... which is not a crawler crane.

With the help of the Internet, I figured out that this is an Interoc Anchor Drill Rig, model AN160.  The machine is used to bore holes for ground stabilization work.

94th Street, SE corner - looking S

Note the wrench attached to the section of pipe.

btw. 94th and 95th Streets - looking NW

Here I came across the 4th crawler crane, another Liebherr  LR1160.  This machine also appeared to me to be nearly brand new.

btw. 93rd and 94th streets - looking W

At first glance, this shot would appear to show grass seedlings that recently have been planted. However, this clearly cannot be the case since the "soil" would appear to be concrete.

I'm at a loss to explain what this is -- at the moment. (Maybe a reader can help out here?)

93rd Street - NE corner - looking N

The contractor at this location is constructing secant walls in and around the future site of Ancillary Building No. 2 for the 96th Street station.

Note the large pile of trash in the trash storage area. Trash removal has been an ongoing challenge for many residents and businesses in the construction zone along Second Avenue since the construction activity makes it difficult for trash to be collected.

93rd Street, NE corner - looking N

The 5th crawler crane I came across was a Bauer BG40 machine, set up for drilling secant walls.  This machine was built in Germany, but not by the Liebherr company.

btw. 91st and 92nd streets - looking NW

The 6th crawler crane I found was a Liebherr HS855 machine.  This machine, which has been stationed at this location for a few years now, is used to lower material into the underground cavern between 92nd and 95th streets.  It is also used to lift material out of the cavern, too, of course.

btw. 87th and 86th streets - looking NE

This is a view of the so-called North Muck Enclosure (a.k.a. The North Muck House).

The gantry crane that is being assembled within this structure will be used to transport muck(rock) from the 86th Street station cavern below to the surface.


The workers in this image, who look like electricians, appear to be in the process of wiring up the new gantry crane.

87th Street, NE corner - looking W
(from a 4th floor apartment balcony)

The workers are using an articulating boom lift to access their work site.  The lift shown is a JLG Industries model 450AJ.

87th Street, NE corner - looking S

A view of the block-long Muck Enclosure from above. The north access shaft can be seen in the foreground on the right.

87th Street, NE corner - looking N

A view of the Sandhog's changing building.

87th Street, NE corner - looking W

At the time this shot was taken, the workers were in the process of wrapping up their work for the day.

86th Street, SW corner - looking N

Another view of the North Muck Enclosure.

86th Street - just west of 2nd Avenue - looking E

At this location, I came across a crew pumping concrete. This work location is the future site of Ancillary Building No. 2 for the 86th Street station.

83rd Street, NW corner - looking E

A view of excavation work underway inside the perimeter of the future location of Ancillary Building No.1 for the future 86th Street station.

Just south of 86th Street - looking E

Note in particular the worker who is installing a tar paper roof onto the plywood structure on which he is standing. In particular, it is interesting to see how the worker is connected to the horizontal lifeline.

The safety technique used here is known as a personal fall arrest system.  This is the first time I have ever seen a worker connected to such a system while working at such a relatively low height. (A personal fall arrest system is one option of protection that OSHA requires for workers on construction sites who are exposed to vertical drops of 6 feet or more.)

btw. 72nd and 71st streets - looking NE

The building covered in netting material is in the process of being taken down to make room for the Entrance No. 3 (a 5 elevator entrance) to the future 72nd Street station.

in front of 1390 2nd Ave - looking N

A closer look through the netting.

72nd Street, SE corner - looking NW

The 6th crawler crane on the avenue is another Liebherr HS 885.  This machine also appears to be nearly brand new.

It is positioned at the site of the Entrance No. 2 (and Ancillary No. 2) for the future 72nd Street station.

69th Street, SE corner - looking NW

The crane in the distance, which is not a crawler crane, is a nearly-new Liebherr LTM 1130 mobile crane.  Since it moves around on wheels, rather than on steel treads, it is classified as a mobile crane rather than a crawler crane.

69th Street, NW corner - looking NW

A close up view of this mobile crane.

btw. 66th and 67th streets - looking E

At this location, the contractor has set up a concrete pumping station. Concrete is pumped from this location to the cavern below via the vertical pipe which you can see protruding from the road surface.

72nd Street, SW corner (?)

In this image, you can see a surveyor's marking as well as a cigarette butt (sorry) on the sidewalk.

If you look closely in the center of the green triangle, you can see a nail with the marking "PK", which I've discovered stands for Parker-Kalon.  PK nails have a fine indent in the head that can be used to receive a surveyor's plumb bob for accurately aligning levels.

As was recently announced by the MTA, all major blasting in the vicinity of the Lexington Ave/63rd Street Station – including the underground "horseshoe tunnel" and "stub cavern" – was completed in early April 2012.

The following two images, from the MTA's web site, show the accomplishment.

MTA Capital Construction
Early April 2012

The stub cavern connects the new tunnels (which are behind the photographer in this image) with the existing Lexington Av/63rd Street Station.

MTA Capital Construction

In this image, the photographer is now looking away from the Lexington Ave/63rd Street station and towards the two new tunnels.

The west tunnel is on the left and the east tunnel is on the right.

The west tunnel will connect to the upper level of the north side of the existing station, and the east tunnel will connect to the lower level of the north side of the existing station.

It is truly amazing to see now just how close these two tunnels are to each other in the bedrock at this point.

Stay Tuned:
According to the MTA Capital Construction Procurement Home Page, tomorrow (April 24th) is the opening/due date for the next Second Avenue subway contract -- the 96th Street Station Finishes contract.

The Sandhogs working under Second Avenue made the cover of the Village Voice on April 11th.

The in-depth story, written by Sean Manning,
can be found via this link:
"Sandhogs Tunneling Under Second Avenue"

The article was accompanied by a wonderful set of images by the New York City-based photographer, Brad DeCecco.

Brad DeCecco
Courtesy The Village Voice

Brad DeCecco
Courtesy The Village Voice

Brad DeCecco
Courtesy The Village Voice

A large set DeCecco's images from this shoot can
found in this on-line gallery:
Sandhogs in Their Element: Beneath Second Avenue
By Brad DeCecco
45 images

Additionally, here is the video that was shot as part of the story.

Sandhogs at work on 2nd Ave. Subway
Produced and Directed by Brad DeCecco
via YouTube
Video (5:02) - 4/11/12

Interested in the Second Avenue subway from a historical perspective? If yes, then you shouldn't miss this special moderated discussion:

Why a Second Avenue Subway NOW?
A Moderated Forum

Thursday, April 26th
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
(Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

St. John the Martyr Church
250 East 72nd Street (btw. 2nd and 3rd)
New York City

Sam Schwartz / President and CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering
Daily News Traffic Columnist and former Chief Engineer/First Deputy Commissioner for NYC Department of Transportation.

Peter Derrick / Transit Historian
Author of Tunneling to the Future:
The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York
“The el trains came down decades ago. Why a new subway now?”

Doreen Frasca / President of Frasca and Associates,
Global Transportation Consulting Firm
“What happens when cities don’t keep up with their transit needs?”

Martin Orenstein / President, Martin Paul Realty Associates, and
Stuart Halper / Real Estate Attorney
“How will the subway affect the value of my property?”

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

Video: "Manhattan Legislator Wants City To Police Construction Of SAS" - NY1 - 4/17/12

"Worker Seriously Injured at 86th Street SAS Site"
By Trevor Kapp and Amy Zimmer - 4/16/12

"MTA Performs Cautious Tests During First Blasts For SAS Entrance"
By Tina Redwine/NY1
Video (1:50) - 4/11/12

The Voice profiles Sandhogs
By Benjamin Kabak
2nd. Ave. Sagas

"MTA Contractors Mishandle Debris From Second Avenue Construction"
By Tina Redwine/NY1 News
Video (2:02) - 4/4/12

"MTA: Improvements coming as blasting starts at 2nd Ave. subway"
By Marc Beja/amNY

MTA Project Update

Video: The Voice profiles Sandhogs
By Benjamin Kabak
2nd. Ave. Sagas

"Subway Work Sinks Prices On East Side "
By Joseph De Avila
The Wall Street Journal - 4/10/12

The MTA's latest Second Avenue Subway Newsletter
Issue III - April 2012:

Lexington Av/63rd St Station Area

72nd Street Station Area

86th Street Station Area

96th Street Station Area

Off Topic
Stopping Traffic: The Busiest NYC Subway Stops

The folks over at Visual News recently released this nice graphic that shows weekday subway ridership (from 2010) on a Vignelli inspired map.

The map clearly shows what almost everyone already knows: the Lexington Avenue is a very busy line - hence why the MTA has been trying to build the Second Avenue line for years.

Stopping Traffic: The Busiest NYC Subway Stops? - 3/28/12


Anonymous said...

"The fact that the TBM could make two independent drives, for more than a mile, through solid rock and come this close – without breaking into the other tunnel – is a feat of modern engineering. "

It didn't. The east tunnel is TBM, but the final part of the west tunnel -- the part which is so close -- is the "horseshoe tunnel" which was mined 'by hand' using drill-and-blast.

It's still a feat of modern engineering, but I thought I should clear that up.

The Launch Box said...

Sorry about the mistake, which has since been corrected. I somehow forgot about this fact when I was wrapping up the posting last night.