Earlier this week the 200-ton "cutter head" for the Second Avenue subway's Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) finally arrived at the The Launch Box, which extends from just south of 92nd Street to 96th Street along Second Avenue. Located 60 feet underneath the street, the Launch Box forms the shell of the new 96th Street Station and is where the TBM was assembled; it will begin drilling into one of two starter tunnels in May. This sucker's HUGE.
According to the MTA, the total length of the TBM, including the trailing gear which contains the mechanical and electrical equipment that powers the cutter head, is 450 feet long. The cutter head has 44 rotating discs, measures 22 feet across, and is painted yellow because these new tunnels will extend the Q train northward from 57th Street. The Launch Box reports that this TBM was originally manufactured 30 years ago and "first used to dig the MTA's 63rd Street Tunnel in the late 1970s and has been used on at least four other projects."
The warmly-anticipated Second Avenue subway line is being built in phases, with the Phase I providing service from 96th Street to 63rd Street as an extension of the Q train. When complete in December 2016 (ha), Phase I will serve 213,000 daily riders and will decrease crowding on the adjacent Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13%, the MTA predicts. Below, check out video of the cutter head arriving at the site Tuesday night, and for more TBM mania, don't miss this absolutely boss video.