New York tunneling projects brace for Irene Aug 2011
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
- Several major tunneling projects in New York City are scrambling to secure their job sites in advance of Hurricane Irene. Some weather tracking models have New York and its 19 million residents taking a direct hit.
Fig 1. Hurricane evacuation map with tunneling projects
Click to view mandatory evacuation zones
- When contacted yesterday, Tom Peyton of Parsons Brinkerhoff and Project Director for Construction for the 2nd Avenue Subway project said everyone was taking the situation very seriously.
- Currently a Category 3 storm with winds of 115mph (185km/hr), Irene is expected hit land today (Saturday, August 27). Experts say the city's famous skyscrapers are built to withstand hurricane force wind, but that flooding is the biggest concern. A 1821 hurricane left Manhattan under 13ft of water. The city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) web site said the storm surge would not be limited to waterfront properties and could conceivably push miles inland in some areas.
- In advance of the hurricane, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuations of low-lying and coastal communities on Friday afternoon. The order covers some quarter of a million residents in Queens and Brooklyn - including parts of Staten Island, Battery Park City and the financial district in Lower Manhattan (Fig 1).
Hurricane Irene tracks its threatening approach to the USA
- "You only have to look at the weather maps to understand how big this storm is and how unique it is, and it's heading basically for us," Bloomberg said at a news conference.
- In addition to preparing construction sites for the on-slaught, city officials have shut down the city's sprawling transit system beginning at noon today (Saturday, 27 August). Services at all 468 stations on the 840 miles of track of the New York Subway system, along with thousands of buses in the city and commuter trains and buses to the suburbs, are to be suspended.
- Three of the city's largest transit construction projects lie in the evacuation order zone.
- The No 7 Line extension on Manhattan's west side is the most vulnerable (Fig 2). Much of the alignment runs under 11th Avenue and lies in Zone A of the evacuation map, the zone at highest risk of flooding from the hurricane's storm surge. Excavation was completed in June of 2010, but final lining work is ongoing.
- The soft tunnels in Queens on the East Side Access railway project are also in the danger zone with a large area of the Borough in the evacuation zone. The two Herrenknecht slurry TBMs on that project began their drives in May and June of this year for the Granite Northeast/Traylor Bros/Frontier-Kemper JV.
- The Dragados/Judlau JV has finished excavation of the Manhattan running tunnels on the same East Side Access project and is well into final lining works. Excavation of the project's large station caverns at Grand Central Terminal is progressing.
- But work has been suspended on all the projects until at least Monday morning. With Hurricane Irene bearing down, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has directed all tunneling contractors to secure their construction sites.
- When contracted yesterday Jeannie Kwon, Director of Communications for the MTA released the following statement. "Cranes at all construction sites are being appropriately secured in anticipation of the high winds. Loose materials on job sites are being removed and remaining materials and structures are being bolted down and secured. Measures to address water conditions are being put into place. Contractor personnel and MTA Capital Construction (CC) management will be on site around the clock, inspecting the sites and providing updates to MTA CC senior management throughout the weekend."
- TunnelTalk will report again as the situation progresses.
Slurry TBMs ready to tackle New York ground - TunnelTalk, Mar 2011
New York breakthrough in Time Square - TunnelTalk, Jun 2010
Next Second Avenue contract bid result - TunnelTalk, Apr 2011
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