MTA Launches Second Avenue Subway Tunnel Boring Machine

NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) earlier this month launched the tunnel boring machine that will dig the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway.

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. The event 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.

The Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 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.

“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 today, 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 Second Avenue Subway is one of four large-scale projects being built as the MTA undertakes the largest expansion of New York’s public transportation system in two generations. The MTA is also connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, extending the 7 subway line to the far west side, and building the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan.

Under Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway project, new stations being built at 96th Street, 86th Street, and 72nd Street will be served by the Q train, as will an expanded station at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue. Further phases of the project will extend the line from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in the Financial District. The configuration of the tracks will allow for possible future extensions into Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.