Judging subway construction by its (cut and) coverBy
S3 Tunnel Constructors work underneath Second Ave. to shore up the bracing system. (All photos via MTA Capital Construction’s CB8 Presentation. Click to enlarge.)
Whenever the topic of Second Ave. Subway construction comes up here — and considering the name of this site, it happens quite frequently — Upper East Siders bemoan the lack of obvious above-ground progress. Nothing is being done at the site, they say. Workers are just mulling about doing not much of nothing, and the project is a waste.
One commenter who lives and works near the Launch Box in the 90s on Second Ave. has repeated these claims for the last few years. “Remember,” commenter Peter Knox wrote over the weekend, “no work is being done on the SAS at all right now, nor has any substantive work been done for months. The thing is completely screwed up and people in the neighborhood are getting fed up.”
On Monday, he again observed idle workers above ground. “I wish it were only three guys looking into the hole,” he said in reply to a fellow UESer who noted similar conditions on the surface. “It is usually six looking and another five drinking coffee and eating doughnuts. There is no way they will be able to build the four stations, as they are now designed, in less than ten years.”
While it is true that the MTA is facing a significant delay in securing a blasting permit, the lack of movement above ground does not mean that nothing is happening at the site. In fact, in its recent presentation to Community Board 8, the MTA along the various contractors working on the project shared a few photos of the progress at the site and construction crews working. These crews though would not be visible to Upper East Siders because they are working underground.
The shot atop this post is just one of four images that show the state of the subway construction underground. The S3 Tunnel Constructors is currently excavating the upper bracing level and has begun installing the bracing system. It isn’t glamorous work, and with Second Ave. decked over with concrete, it isn’t visible to the community. But in order to get the launch box ready for the tunnel-boring machine, it is necessary work that is moving this project forward.
After the jump, three more pictures and some closing thoughts.
As action shots go, these aren’t the most compelling photos. The ones with workers — the photo atop this post and the last of three above — show just one or two contractors. Yet, we cannot deny that something is happening below ground. According to the MTA’s presentation, although surface workers are present only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, these workers below ground are on the clock 24/7.
We can’t judge progress on the subway line by its cover yet. The MTA’s blasting permit is currently under review by the Fire Department, and the Department of Buildings along with an expert in old brick masonry is trying to figure out how to ensure the stability of the structurally unsound buildings along Second Ave. When that work can begin, We’ll see more forward movement on this decades old plan. Phase I of the Second Ave. Subway may not arrive until 2017 or 2018, if recent dire predictions prove true, but it is moving forward. The proof is in the pictures.