Link: NYT Mag goes inside the Second Ave. SubwayBy
Earlier today, I found myself at the 63rd St. F station for the first time in a while, and it was a sight to behold. The faux-wall and red tiling are nearly all gone from the platform level, and a blue construction wall marks the station as a work zone. The fake dropped ceiling is gone, and the original two-track cavern shape is clearly visible. I snapped a shot that seems indicative of the wait that remains before the Second Ave. Subway runs through that station, but work is clearly moving forward.
This weekend, The New York Times sent a photographer and a writer from the magazine into the Second Ave. Subway, albeit a few blocks north. Kim Tingley wrote about the sandhogs building the 72nd St. station cavern as Richard Barnes snapped a series of breathtaking photos that show the scope and ambition in the project. The 10 shots in the slideshow left me wanting more.
The photos, though, weren’t the only thing of which I wanted more. Tingley’s piece was a short bit on the workers risking their lives to build the subway 80 years in the making, and she did mention the costs — $86 million 80 years ago for a full line, $4.5 billion for a 33-block extension today. That by itself is worth a story. Why does this construction — which doesn’t cross a river and adds only a few new stations — cost so much? We’ve heard reasons ranging from environmental impact mitigation to the depths of stations to work rules and safety requirements. At some point, though, a publication with the resources and space of The Times should level a serious gaze on infrastructure costs. The photos — especially No. 3 and No. 6 — are fantastic, but the story runs just as deep as the station caverns.