Home Second Avenue Subway The shape of Tunnel Boring Machines to come

The shape of Tunnel Boring Machines to come

by Benjamin Kabak

Early last week, the MTA took us all for a visual trip inside the Second Ave. Subway launch box. With the starter tunnels nearly complete, the Capital Construction crews will soon lower the tunnel boring machine 60 feet under the ground to start the trip from 96th St. to the existing tunnels at 63rd St.

Yesterday, via its NYCTSubwayScoop Twitter account, Transit unveiled some information about the tunnel boring machine that will soon dig the city its long-awaited Second Ave. Subway. The picture above – courtesy of MTA Capital Construction –¬†shows the tunnel boring machine currently at work digging out the 7 line extension. The one for Second Avenue is quite similar.

Per Transit, the TBM for the East Side dates from the late 1970s. It has been reconditioned and is now “like new.” Now on the way from Newark, the TBM was tested in New Jersey and will be reassembled in front of the starter tunnels underground. A new era in the New York City subway will soon be upon us.

For this particular tunnel boring machine, a trip underground in New York City is nothing new. This is the same TBM that dug out the 63rd St. tunnel a few decades ago. Now, it will reunite with that tunnel and activate currently unused tracks that connect to the BMT Broadway line. Most recently, this machine dug out the Fall River CSO in Massachusetts.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll have more on the tunnel boring machine and its launch date approaches. For now, I’ll leave you after the jump with two final images – again via Capital Construction – of the TBM underneath 11th Ave. The first shows the TBM getting pulled through the station cavern at 34th St., and the second shows the TBM’s trailing gear. Soon, we’ll have pictures similar to these but under Second Ave. as the phantom subway inches closer to reality.

Click the pictures for bigger views. These are impressive pieces of machinery digging underneath our city right now.

You may also like


Scott E April 9, 2010 - 8:24 am

Tested in New Jersey? I wonder how the logistics of that test worked (does Manhattan’s bedrock exist anywhere in NJ?). Is there a secret tunnel stub somewhere in NJ now, and if so, where and how long is it? (Can it be used for anything?). Or, maybe they just powered it on, watched the blades spin in free air, then shut it back off.

Josh K April 9, 2010 - 10:59 am

The latter.

How New York's Subways Are Made | iNews 24h April 9, 2010 - 8:38 am

[…] The TBM was built in the 1970s in New Jersey, and has been reconditioned “like new” and reassembled in New York for this month’s subway-digging work.[Twitter via Gothamist via 2nd Ave. Sagas] […]

Nabe News: April 9 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle April 9, 2010 - 1:35 pm

[…] tunnel-boring machine being used to carve out the decades-in-the-making Second Avenue Subway [Second Avenue […]

How New York’s Subways Are Made | Gizmodo Australia April 9, 2010 - 3:32 pm

[…] The TBM was built in the 1970s in New Jersey, and has been reconditioned “like new” and reassembled in New York for this month’s subway-digging work. [Twitter via Gothamist via 2nd Ave. Sagas] […]

Jerrold April 9, 2010 - 3:34 pm

It says “5 responses”, but only two of them are visible.

Benjamin Kabak April 9, 2010 - 3:37 pm

The Trackbacks/Pingbacks below count. Although I might do away with those soon.

The TBM is on its way | Upper Green Side April 12, 2010 - 12:36 pm

[…] – Some TBM love over on Second Ave Sagas […]

A SAS date with the tunnel boring machine :: Second Ave. Sagas April 13, 2010 - 12:01 pm

[…] the end of last week, I profiled the tunnel boring machine that the MTA said would soon be lowered into the launch box below Second Ave. Yesterday, we learned […]

SAS Update: The TBM cutterhead arrives :: Second Ave. Sagas April 22, 2010 - 2:01 am

[…] few weeks ago, I profiled the TBM the MTA will use underneath Second Ave. This particular machine is a 30-year-old veteran that most […]

A Descent Into New York’s Remarkable Second Avenue Subway | Yolobzinga Art July 31, 2013 - 4:37 am

[…] construction is done bottom-up. Workers use explosives and heavy machinery and a giant refurbished 22-foot-wide tunnel boring machine—capable of digging about 66 feet per day—to excavate rock. They erect walls and […]


Leave a Comment