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Tunneling Begins Under Second Avenue

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has launched the tunnel boring machine that will dig the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway. Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway will serve more than 200,000 people per day, reducing overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue Line and restoring a transit link to a neighborhood that lost the Second Avenue Elevated in 1940.

The 485-ton, 450-foot-long machine will dig through approximately 50 feet of Manhattan bedrock per day as it completes two runs from 92nd Street to 63rd Street by November 2011. This marks a significant milestone in Phase 1 of the MTA's Second Avenue Subway construction project, which is on schedule to be completed by December 2016.

"There have been skeptics who saw construction start and stop in the 1970s and said the Second Avenue Subway would never be built," said MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder. "But we are turning on the machine that will dig the Phase 1 Second Avenue Subway tunnels, and we won't turn it off until the tunnels are done. This powerful machine is a tangible reminder of the important role that today's MTA capital program will play for generations of New Yorkers to come."

The tunnel boring machine was originally manufactured by The Robbins Company about 30 years ago. It was first used to dig the MTA's 63rd Street Tunnel in the late 1970's and has been used on at least four other projects. The machine has been reconditioned and was rebuilt in Newark, NJ. The TBM was most recently used on the Fall River CSO Project in Fall River, MA.

When Phase I is complete, it will decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday. It will also reduce travel times by up to 10 minutes or more (up to 27%) for those on the far east side or those traveling from the east side to west midtown.

The line is being built in phases, with the Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway providing service from 96th Street to 63rd Street as an extension of the Q train, three new ADA-accessible stations along Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets, and new entrances to the existing Lexington Av/63 Street Station at 63rd Street and Third Avenue.

"Building the Second Avenue Subway is a remarkable undertaking that has had its share of challenges, both past and present," said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. "Thanks to the commitment of our funding partners and the Upper East Side community, we continue to make significant progress towards delivering a new state-of-the-art subway for New York City."