Boring for new 2nd Avenue subway begins

The tunnel boring machine is assembled in the tunnel below Second Avenue, Friday, May 14, 2010, in New York. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched the tunnel boring machine on Friday 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. (Mary Altaffer)

May 14, 2010 3:26:15 PM PDT
Sixty-two feet beneath the Upper East Side workers are building the Second Avenue subway.

On Friday, a mammoth drill began to dig the tunnels.

Even macho sandhogs stood in awe. The behemoth tunnel boring machine is 450 feet long with a 200-ton cutter head that churns through 50 feet of rock a day. It will help create a subway line to relieve overcrowding on the Lexington line, the most crowded in the nation.

"Many years ago, people made a mistake. They left the East Side of New York with one subway line. It has taken us decades, multiple generations, to be able to do what we're doing today," MTA CEO Jay Walder said.

When complete, the Second Avenue subway line will include 16 new stations and run trains from 125th Street to Hanover Square in the financial district.

A new train, the T, will run this route as will the Q train, which currently starts in Coney Island and goes to 7th Avenue at 57th Street.

But we're still in the early stages of the project. First, the dig.

For many involved, the project's personal.

"This is why I decided to take the job, because I felt hat this was one way I could contribute to the future of New York," Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction, said.

"That is definitely a source of pride for us. Later in life, getting to look back and say we did that," sandhog Jay Ward said.

If this massive project stays on track, passengers could be riding the Second Avenue subway by 2016.