200-Ton Earth Worm Now Dying Under New York

Right now, there's a 6.7m wide metal monster dying 14 storeys below park avenue. Together with its twin brother, it excavated 265,000 cubic metres of bedrock in a 9km long tunnel.

Now the engineers behind the East Side Access Project — a tunnel that connects New York's Grand Central Terminal to another terminal in Queens — have decided to let the machine die, abandoned to rot after excavating its own tomb under Manhattan. But why leave it there?

The answer is simple: The machine is too old to keep working after completing the job, which started in 2006. The engineers at Dragados, the Spanish company behind the $US7 billion East Side Access project, have decided to let the Double Shield Tunnel Boring Machine rot underground instead of taking it out, a feat which would cost $US9 million. That's way more than the machine would fetch if sold for scrap metal.

The 6.7m long monster — manufactured by SELI of Rome, Italy — worked alongside another 6.7m TBM and an army of heavy machinery that included:

• One 12-ton Sandvik MT720 header • One 22.7 Schöma locomotive • Two boom Jumbo drill • One Robo Drill with 22-foot slides • Caterpillar 980 and 966 loaders • A Grove 35-ton cherry picker crane • A Manitowoc 777 175-ton crawler crane with a 33.5m boom • One PM500 shotcrete robot by Allentown.

That's an impressive army of machines.

Maybe now we New Yorkers can stop bitching about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority not investing in the network. [Construction Equipment, New York Times, Construction (PDF)]

A part of the 9km tunnel joining Long Island with Grand Central.

An image of the machine in its resting place.

The 12-ton Sandvik MT720, one of the little helpers.

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