New York Water Tunnel

Monday, October 22, 2007

from,August 09, 2006
Hundreds of feet under Manhattan, workers have finished excavation work on the second stage of the city's third water tunnel project.
The third tunnel already services some areas of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, but this $1 billion leg of the project takes its reach citywide, though the water won't start flowing until 2009.
The city says work began in 1970 to ease pressure on the city's older tunnels one and two, which were built during the early 1900's.
The entire project is slated for completion within the next 15 years. Once finished, the third tunnel is expected to almost double the city's 1.2 billion gallon per day water supply capacity.
Since breaking ground for the project 35 years ago, 23 workers have died during construction.
NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed this report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg swapped his muck boots for street shoes after spending Wednesday morning 550 feet under Manhattan.
"It's just amazing. We went over to 59th [Street] and First [Avenue], and here we are on the west side," said the mayor.
The underground journey marked the end of excavation on the Manhattan leg of the city's third water tunnel, a $1 billion project designed to allow for inspection and repair to tunnels one and two, built during the early 1900's.
“God forbid tunnel one or two collapses, at least we'll have a backup and the city would continue,” said Bloomberg. “Without that backup, the city couldn't survive without water."
This tunnel is eight and a half miles long, running from West 30th Street in three directions: South to Lower Manhattan; north to Central Park, where it will connect with stage one of the project, which runs from Yonkers, through the Bronx and into Manhattan before heading into Astoria, Queens; and crosstown before heading north near the Midtown Tunnel.
"It's hard to express the complexity of it, just some of the things that need to take place. It's different from regular construction," said sandhog Dennis McGuire.
Working in the tunnel is both difficult and dangerous. Twenty-three sandhogs have died since construction began in 1970.
It's not hard to imagine how. There's only one way in and out of the tunnel, which is nearly 60 stories underground.
Ed DePinter operates the crane that handles all the equipment going or coming out.
"I started working about 18 years ago on the tunnel, and I have been a part of it for most of my career as an operating engineer,” he said. “It is something to be proud of, and I didn't think I’d ever see the end of it "
He’s not the only one. The tunnel project has spanned six administrations. It's the largest infrastructure project in city history.
“It's one of those things nobody appreciates while you're doing it,” said Bloomberg. “They don't want to spend the money. They say, 'Oh, let the next generation do it.' But if we want to leave our children and grandchildren a better world, we have to invest in these kinds of things."
Once finished, the third tunnel is expected to almost double the city's 1.2 billion gallon per day water supply capacity.
The Manhattan section of the tunnel is expected to be completed 2012.