Digging Tunnels, 14 Stories Below New York City

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Far beneath the bustling streets of Manhattan, and out of sight for the majority of New York City’s 8 million residents, the largest transportation project in the country is churning away day and night hollowing out granite to create six miles of new tunnels.

It’s the biggest addition to New York’s public transportation system since the opening of Penn Station in 1910; a push to connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. When completed, 32,000 feet of new tunnels will have been excavated.

Thus far, all digging has been done by a pair of 22-foot long hard rock boring machines; to date, nearly 22,200 feet of tunnel has been cleared. Outside of Manhattan, two soft-ground tunnel boring machines will begin excavating 10,000 linear feet of tunnels in Queens to connect the 63rd street Tunnel to the existing LIRR tracks in Sunnyside. If you’ve never visited the Big Apple, take it from this New Yorker: such connections will change the lives of hundreds of thousand of commuters each week.

Construction work began in 2006, but is so complicated and rigorous that the end date of the construction project has been pushed back multiple times. The new tunnels are now expected to open in 2019.

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19 comments
bone315
bone315

Showing my age here..  The Statue of Liberty in the 1st movie was a trip.  Sorry to be a spoiler, but it's been 44+years........

bone315
bone315

Looks like there could be a re-do of 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' with this architecture........

Astounding.

Marko0916
Marko0916

I'd like to know who profited from all the gold that was also mined during this project

orion7x
orion7x

They will be great water tubes in a few years when NY is underwater...

AnnaIsabelKurzer
AnnaIsabelKurzer

It sure looks nice underneath... 

However, as a former resident of the Upper East Side where this project is taking place, I can tell you that above ground looks like a huge mess and the constant explosions were shaking the walls of my tiny apartment.  This project was delayed numerous times and the projected completion time has been nearly doubled. The little shops along 2nd Avenue have been hit very hard by the ongoing construction. It is nearly impossible to access them, which forced many out of business. 



JonLevine
JonLevine like.author.displayName 1 Like

If and when the so called "East-side access" project is completed, that will go down as the most important change to the infrastructure of the MTA in over 100 years.  10s of thousands of Long Islanders commute to and from the City every day, and for nearly 100 years you were forced to get off on the West Side of Manhattan.  You can have your boring 2nd Ave. subway and 7 line extensions; Directly connecting the LIRR to Grand Central is something that's 100 years in the making.

Relaxasaurus
Relaxasaurus

@JonLevine Except who cares about Long Island except on summer weekends? The 4/5/6 are horrible for rush hour and the 2nd ave station will affect more locals. This is coming from someone who doesn't take either line to get to work.

JonLevine
JonLevine

@Relaxasaurus @JonLevine Have you ever stopped to think that people actually LIVE on Long Island?  Long Island could be it's own state with it's population approaching 8 million people.

This isn't Coney Island or some slum in the Bronx we're talking about here.

JonLevine
JonLevine

@Relaxasaurus @JonLevine  

That's a joke, right?  Telling a LI'er that  it's a "minor inconvenience" compared to someone who pays NYC taxes?   LONG ISLAND HAS THE SECOND HIGHEST PROPERTY TAXES IN THE UNITED STATES.  What's your property taxes, zero?  That, on top of mortgages and of course having to deal with National Grid during a a severe storm doesn't make us LI'ers feel bad for you City folks. 

Relaxasaurus
Relaxasaurus

@JonLevine @Relaxasaurus I have numerous friends who are from LI. Why you would suffer commuting over an hour is your own choice/problem.

One reason people move into the city to be closer to work and not suffer long commutes. The 4/5/6 and the L are overcrowded as it is, sometimes passing by stations because they are so full.

You getting off at Penn Station is a minor inconvenience compared to someone who pays NYC taxes, pays NYC rent/mortages and has to deal with a broken local infrastructure.

I'm glad you will be able to get off on the east side of the island, but the 4/5/6 issue will still exist for many coming in from LI. Not sure why you think fixing those lines would be "boring." It's "if it doesn't directly affect me it's a waste of time/money" syndrome.

TenaciousJim
TenaciousJim

New York's underground infrastructure is mind boggling.

middleroad
middleroad

there is no kind of construction more dangerous, slow and expensive then tunnel/mine excavation. (possible tie with ocean engineering projects). It would be nice however, for someone to actually estimate the project cost and time correctly before starting, its not like this is the first major tunnel project done in the USA. NYC has the advantage and disadvantage of being built on solid granite. Great for stability and strength, but slow and difficult for excavation.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@middleroad hard to do, too many variables, too many unknowns.....try this, can you predict what you will be paying for gas two months from now....much less five years from now?  Put that perspective on every line item on a budget.  Add a huge percent for unexected delays and mistakes.   And as another post says, the number would be so scary that it would not be funded.   The greater question is why do we need to know the exact cost for something that is so important.  Works of this nature should be done more frequently to improve our quality of lives and provide jobs.  The US Gov. with its seemingly unlimited checkbook funds most of it anyway.  I'm still trying to figure out how Chris Christie cancelled the tunnel from NJ to NY and hasn't been impeached!  He's worried about the NJ part of the funding but cancels something that would have benefited generations (you should not put a cost on that, otherwise we would not have things like the Hoover Dam, most bridges, etc.).

MichaelLouro
MichaelLouro

@middleroad  - discovering the true cost of the project upfront would mean it would NEVER be approved to begin. It's the old adage: party now, pay later.

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