NEW YORK—A massive “worm” is gearing up to eat its way through bedrock between East 92nd and East 63rd streets in Manhattan.
On Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) ceremoniously unleashed a 485-ton boring machine that will dig between the two streets to complete the first phase, dubbed “Phase 1,” of the Second Avenue subway line construction.
The machine, which is 450 feet long, is expected to drill through approximately 50 feet of bedrock underneath Manhattan each day, working its way south from East 92nd Street to East 63rd Street.
Officials made the announcement next to the boring machine, which dwarfs anyone who stands next to it, to celebrate the drilling.
The Second Avenue line is expected to serve 200,000 people a day and reduce overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line. When completed, the line will serve the Q-train extension, as well as the soon-to-be-created T-train.
Until its closure in the early 1940s, the passengers at Second Avenue relied on the elevated train. Since then, there have been rumors of constructing another form of mass transit, such as a subway line.
The drilling of the Second Avenue subway has been notoriously delayed for several decades, and critics have said that the project will never be completed.
“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 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.”
The subway line is expected to open in December 2016 and will cost approximately $4.5 billion, while employing some 16,000 workers.
The Boring Machine
Built over 30 years ago, the boring machine itself has had a storied past.
It drilled a 63rd Street tunnel in the late 1970s in its first project and has since been used in “at least four other projects,” the MTA noted. The machine has been refurbished in Newark, N.J., to condition it for drilling underneath Manhattan this time around.
“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,” said Walder.
“Building the Second Avenue subway is a remarkable undertaking that has had its share of challenges, both past and present,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction.
Horodniceanu told NBC that he named the boring machine “Adi,” after his two-year-old granddaughter.