Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg turned off a tunnel boring machine (so...many...jokes...) and announced that the excavation of the Third Water Tunnel was complete. Workers, called "sandhogs," had been clearing the way for "stage 2" of the project, the 8.5 mile water tunnel, since October 2003 (the first stage was started in 1970 and opened in 1998!). The project, which is expected to be complete by 2020, is important because Water Tunnels 1 and 2 have never been checked up on or had service inspections, so the Third Water Tunnel is an "insurance policy." The Mayor waxed about the project:
New York City has some of the best water in the nation and while clean drinking water is often taken for granted, the City continues to develop ways to ensure the delivery of quality drinking water for generations to come. The Third Water Tunnel is the single largest infrastructure project in the City's history and is exactly the kind of sound investment that we need to ensure our long-term growth and prosperity. The building of Water Tunnels One and Two were essential in New York City's evolution into a world business and cultural center and this third Tunnel will help keep our City thriving through 21st Century."
Stage 2 of the Third Water Tunnel serves Manhattan, with three sections that radiate from West 30th Street - one goes north to Central Park, one goes south and southeast to the Lower East Side, and one cuts crosstown and north to the Upper East Side.
Check out the city's website on the Third Water Tunnel. Sandhogs were proud of their work, noting a "tradition of working underground" to the NY Times. A tunnel boring machine was used for stage 2 and excavated through enough rock to fill a football stadium 250 feet high. amNY has photographs of the tunnel, and Mayor Bloomberg was named an "honorary" sandhog.