Home Second Avenue Subway The MTA takes us inside the launch box

The MTA takes us inside the launch box

by Benjamin Kabak

Last night, the cutterhead for the Second Ave. Subway tunnel boring machine arrived on site, and thanks to Ben Heckscher from The Launch Box, I was able to post a series of photos from the big moment. Just a few minutes ago, the MTA posted its official release on the symbolic arrival of the cutterhead, published the video, above, to its YouTube page and posted the images — many of which I’ve embedded in this post — to its Facebook page.

“The arrival this week of the TBM at Second Avenue is a clear indicator that the MTA is delivering on a major expansion project that will have a dramatic impact on Manhattan’s East Side easing overcrowding within our transit system and serving as an economic driver for the region as a whole,” MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu said via the release.

When fully assembled, the TBM will 450 feet long, and the cutterhead will feature 44 rotation disks designed to cut through the Manhattan Schist. In May, the TBM will make its first of two trips through the rock, and when the boring is completed, two 7700 foot-long tunnels will be ready for further work.

In its release this afternoon, the MTA offered up some vital information about the Second Ave. Subway. When Phase I is completed, it will serve at least 213,000 riders per day who currently use other subway lines, buses taxis or private cars to get around down. Transit believes it will decrease crowding on the Lexington Ave. subways by as much as 13 percent or 23,500 fewer passengers per weekday. Those who live along the far East side will see travel times reduced by up to 10 minutes. The western-most of the two SAS tubes, says the MTA, will be the first mined by the TBM.

As this shot shows, the cutterhead is truly immense. It measures 22 feet across and is painted yellow in honor of the fact that these new tunnels will extend the Q train northward from 57th St. And now we wait the 6.5 years until the first phase of the Second Ave. Subway is ready for revenue service.

All images courtesy of the MTA. For more, check out this gallery.

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