New York City’s new 2nd Avenue subway line is a construction project of truly monumental scale. Decades of planning and billions of dollars have led to the near-completion of Phase 1 of the tunnel running underneath Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Gizmodo was lucky enough to take a tour through a section of the caverns and passages that will soon be a bustling subway line.
Boring the two miles of Phase 1’s tunnels began in 2010, with the project scheduled to be completed in 2016. It will eventually carry around 200,000 riders between 63rd Street and 96th Street. All four phases of the line, once completed, will run from 125th Street all the way down to Hanover Square at the southern tip of Manhattan. This won’t wrap up for many years, however, as funding is procured on a phase-by-phase basis.
The tour began at 86th Street, led by president of MTA Capital Construction, Michael Horodniceanu. Members of the press gathered into a small elevator and descended 160 feet down into an expansive cavern. Workers milled about among the surreal site of giant yellow waterproofing liners and dark passageways.
We proceeded to walk south through the damp train tunnel, occasionally stopping to gaze at the shafts of light and mysterious chambers. Eventually the tunnel ended at an abrupt wooden wall, on the other side of which was a huge two-level room making up the mezzanine and platform of the future 72nd St. station.
The new subway stations are meant to be airy and open, a far fry from the cramped hallways that New Yorkers are used to when waiting for the train. The new stations will be completely column-less. It was hard not to visualise the scores of people moving through the station that is still just a concrete shell.
We finally arrived at a slanted platform that would house an escalator bringing passengers up to 72nd St. We had to take the stairs. As we emerged at street-level, the sun was blinding and hot. But, as far as getting around in New York City goes, it certainly beat taking the train.
Here’s my journey, from start to finish: