A major expansion of New York City's subway system is forging ahead despite operating budget shortfalls that have led to service cuts and higher fares.
MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceau announced Thursday that the main components of the Second Avenue Subway Tunnel Boring Machine, including the 200-ton cutter head, were lowered this week into the Launch Box at at 96th Street for the final stage of assembly (as seen in photo at left). In May, the TBM will begin mining the western tunnel for the new two-track line.
Originally manufactured by the Robbins Company about 30 years ago, the TBM was first used to dig the MTA's 63rd Street Tunnel in the late 1970s and has was been used on at least four other projects. The machine has been reconditioned and was rebuilt in Newark, N, J., at contractor Schiavone's yard.
The TBM, including the trailing gear which contains mechanical and electrical equipment that powers the cutter head, is 450 feet long. The cutter head has 44 rotating discs that will drill and excavate the approximately 7,700 foot-long tunnels.
“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,” said Horodniceau.
Construction of Phase I of the new subway beganin April 2007. When completed (currently set for December 2016), it will serve 213,000 daily riders and is expected to decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, or 23,500 fewer riders on an average weekday. It will also reduce travel times by up to 10 minutes or more (up to 27%)for those on the far east side or those traveling from the East Side to west Midtown.
If the New York State Senate continues to balk at a plan to help the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority close a looming $1.2 billion budget gap, the agency's millions of daily rail, subway, and bus riders face fare increases averaging 23% and deep cuts in service.