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January 11th, 2003, 11:45 PM
NY Times...

The Underground Men


ON a slate-gray afternoon at a Midtown construction site, seven men in hard hats and yellow rain gear stepped into a steel cage suspended over a dark hole nearly 60 stories deep. The last man on board latched the door shut, and the cage sank away from daylight and toward a sonorous, mechanical roar far below. The men inserted earplugs and then bowed their heads and folded their hands, as though observing a somber ceremony.

The cage came to rest on a small platform in an eerie, dim world. Light bulbs affixed to craggy rock walls showed a cavernous, 300-foot-long tunnel. A few men plodded toward the cage, lugging tools and sloshing through six inches of water. Shrouded in silvery dust, two men guided a jumbo drill that resembled a terrifying robot from a science fiction movie and deafeningly bored into ancient Manhattan bedrock.

Soon the drilling stopped. It was shift change, and there were barked salutations and brisk backslaps as the men stepped out of the cage. Eamon O'Donnell, a broad man with a red mustache who had been "in the hole" since 7 a.m., climbed aboard the cage and gestured toward one end of the tunnel. "We'll be back tomorrow," he said, "to give her hell."

These men are sandhogs. They build the city by digging. And now they are carving out the city's Third Water Tunnel.

This particular morning, 600 feet below 10th Avenue and 30th Street, about 40 sandhogs are excavating the first few hundred feet of the tunnel's Manhattan spur. When completed in 2020, half a century after work began, the tunnel will stretch 60 miles and ferry one billion gallons of water to the city each day.

At $6 billion, the tunnel is the costliest capital project the city has ever undertaken. The nine-mile Manhattan spur alone will cost $670 million and will take seven years to finish.

The size of the tunnel is also reflected in a more sobering statistic: 24 people have died during its construction, all but 3 of them sandhogs.

A steel cage transports some sandhogs 60 stories under Midtown to dig the spur of the Third Water Tunnel.

"We're urban miners," said Richard Fitzsimmons Jr., a third generation sandhog and union leader. "Except we're not mining for ore. We're mining the earth and putting in concrete."

Dennis O'Neill, a sandhog working 60 stories below Manhattan's west side.

January 11th, 2003, 11:54 PM
More from the tunnel: http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dep/html/news/3rdtunnel.html

The fountain in Central Park Reservoir was added in 1917 — 55 years after the reservoir was constructed — to mark the activation of City Water Tunnel No. 1. Today, the five spouts of the refurbished fountain, representing each of the City's five boroughs, send plumes of water more than 80 feet high.

The illuminated fountain in the Reservoir stands as a bold symbol of City Water Tunnel No. 3.



January 12th, 2003, 12:14 AM

I remember seeing a television special about this way back in highschool. Amazing this sort of long term planning can happen over the course of so many different administrations.

January 12th, 2003, 12:48 AM
This is really cool! Thanks, for sharing this information! I had never even heard of this project until that third die hard movie came out. *Also, Chris makes a good point. Personally, I am suprised that the incoming administrations never tried to cancel this out of spite for the outgoing administrations.

(Edited by amigo32 at 12:57 am on Jan. 12, 2003)

January 12th, 2003, 03:36 AM
I know that this is 60 stories in the opposite direction that what we wish for, but this is a great thread! I only wish the city would have the vision that was shown on this project, with subways, zoning, parks, etc. Just think how great New York could be in 2020 when this finally opens fully!

October 8th, 2003, 10:38 PM
October 9, 2003

Mayor Goes 550 Feet Below to Note Start of Tunnel Construction


The immense water tunnel — known officially as City Tunnel No. 3 — has been so long in the making that its construction has already outlasted five mayors, inspired thousands of news stories and killed 23 tunnel workers.

And it still will not be finished for at least another 17 years.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pulled on rubber boots and a yellow slicker yesterday to descend 550 feet below the city's streets to note the start of construction on a long-awaited Manhattan leg of the water tunnel. Begun in 1970 when John V. Lindsay was mayor, the 60-mile-long tunnel in what city officials call the largest public works project in the city's history.

It is also one of the most expensive, expected to cost $5.5 billion to $6 billion when it is eventually finished. For those keeping count, that is even more than Mr. Bloomberg is said to be worth. (His fortune has been estimated at $4.9 billion.)

"I want to still be mayor when this is finished, so I can dedicate it," he told one worker. "Now, somebody throws the switch, and the water pours through or something?"

New York City residents draw 1.3 billion gallons of water every day from upstate reservoirs. The water is delivered primarily through two aging tunnels that have been used since the early 1900's, and city engineers have long worried that a problem in either tunnel would leave the city without enough water.

"We can live without a lot of things — water is not one of them," the mayor said. "It would be a very big problem for the city if one of those two tunnels were to collapse in any one portion. It could take up to a year to dig down, and repair it, and get it back in service."

Mr. Bloomberg said the third tunnel would provide an extra layer of security for the city while allowing engineers to shut down the older tunnels temporarily for inspections and repairs. He said the valves in those tunnels have never been used since the tunnels were flooded with water.

"One of the great fears is, if today you turned off one of those valves, you may not be able to get it back on, or maybe the tunnel may collapse if there's no water in it," he said.

The third water tunnel, ranging from 10 to 24 feet in diameter, is being constructed in portions. The first portion, completed in 1998, extends 13 miles from the Hillview Reservoir in Westchester County through the Bronx, upper Manhattan and Queens, and is already carrying drinking water.

Work is also proceeding on a 10.5-mile stretch of the tunnel from Red Hook, Brooklyn, to Woodside and Astoria, Queens, that is expected to open by 2007.

Christopher O. Ward, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said that by 2008, engineers would complete the Manhattan stretch of the tunnel, which will run along the West Side from Lincoln Center to the Holland Tunnel. In addition, they will build two spurs to bring water to the East Side.

Mr. Ward also said the tunnel workers, known as sandhogs, would add a third work shift that could more than double progress on the tunnel construction to between 60 and 100 feet per day. "Obviously the geological challenges of what is down there really determine what the rate of speed is," he said.

Mr. Bloomberg, accompanied by Mr. Ward and a handful of reporters, climbed yesterday into an orange metal elevator that rumbled noisily down past solid bedrock. At the bottom, he sloshed though muddy water to chat with the sandhogs.

He even held an impromptu news conference in the cavernous tunnel, as water dripped from overhead, jokingly telling reporters that the tunnel would soon replace Room 9, the press room in City Hall. "The press can't go back up," he said.

Asked if New Yorkers appreciated the city's efforts in digging the water tunnel, Mr. Bloomberg replied that his job was to make sure that people had water when they turned on their faucets, without having to worry about it.

"It's like crime, leave it to the professionals," he said. "You see something, call 911 or 311. Let them do it."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

October 16th, 2003, 12:20 PM
From downtown Express (http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_25/sandhogstunneling.html)

Sandhogs tunneling into Lower Manhattan

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photos by Josh Rogers

Sandhogs take a lunch break.

New York City’s third water tunnel will be penetrating into the very depths of Lower Manhattan in the next few months.

Such a phallic description has perhaps never been more appropriate than for the tunnel – a 50-year, 60-mile, $6-billion project where currently only men work.

Water Tunnel Number 3, 600 feet below ground, is so low that reportedly even rats don’t dare show their face. About the only species to be found is a sandhog – the name for the workers who have been toiling in eight-hour shifts since 1970. They expect to be finished in 2020.

Jim O’Donnell, 42, has been working on the tunnel with his brother since he was 18 and said once a worker makes it through the first shift, he is well on his way to becoming a sandhog.

“You know the first day, if they make it past that, they’re fine,” O’Donnell said last week during a tour of the tunnel with reporters and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

O’Donnell said some men and women can’t take the conditions — that is lack of natural light, the dark, wet tunnel or the idea of being a skyscraper below street level. He said the women who have tried in the past have given up either because of the conditions or the physical demands of the job.

“There’s a lot of heavy machinery,” said O’Donnell. “You need some brawn.”

Twenty-three workers have died building the tunnel. Construction has gotten safer since workers have begun using a tunnel-boring machine, nicknamed the mole, and have eliminated most of the need to use dynamite. Fire in the tunnel is another danger. Reporters were warned before descending down the lift that a fire is likely to cause a shut down of electricity and would cut off the ventilation. D.E.P. officials said sandhogs would make sure everyone gets a gas mask, which reporters would know was working if it caused a painful burning sensation in the mouth. They were warned to fight the instinct to pull the mask away.

Water Tunnel 3 will allow the city to shut its two early-20th century tunnels for repairs.

“The tunnel will give us security that really we absolutely have to have,” Bloomberg said.

Christopher Ward, the city’s commissioner of the Dept. of Environmental Protection, said both tunnels are in good shape, but it takes years to drain and repair them, so you can’t wait to see signs of deterioration.

Stage 2 of the project involving an 8.5-mile stretch in Manhattan and 5.5 miles in Brooklyn and Queens is scheduled to be completed in 2008, at which time repairs on the existing tunnels will begin.

Ward said shafts connecting the tunnel to the street will provide opportunities to build new parks in some places. One is planned for the lot at Hudson and Houston Sts. and is likely to made into a second ballpark across the street from J.J. Walker Park.

The sandhogs expect to get there in six months and it won’t be long after that they will be under Tribeca. Judy Duffy, assistant district manager of Community Board 1, said there will be a shaft near the Holland Tunnel rotary at Laight St. and one at James Madison Plaza, near St. James Place and Madison St.

Another shaft is expected to be built on Ninth Ave. on a little-trafficked street between 13th and 14th Sts.

The shafts take about 18 months to build, but Duffy said people from other community boards have told her that shaft construction is only disruptive the first few weeks when the work is at street level. The tunnel construction causes virtually no disruption because it is so far from the street.

Ward said D.E.P. has adjusted the route so it will be able to work simultaneously on different parts of the tunnel and shave two years off the completion date.

Once the Downtown section is finished, the sandhogs will head north from 30th St. up to Lincoln Center.

The sandhogs currently work two shifts a day, but the city expects to expand to three shortly. The job includes using the mole to carve out the rock, which is a relatively quiet process. Every five feet of tunnel dug out produces enough rocks to fill a train of about 60 feet long. The train is then transported to the shaker – a machine that breaks the rock into smaller pieces. The shaker makes sounds as loud as explosions and is the loudest noise heard in the tunnel on a typical day. The smaller rocks are loaded onto a conveyor belt that transports the rocks up to street level.

Bloomberg said he respected the sandhogs’ sacrifice. “It’s a dangerous job,” he said. “It’s cold. It’s damp it’s confined and there’s very big machinery.”

Paul Wegman, 24, who has been working in the tunnel for three years, said he is one of the “hillbilly sandhogs” because he drives 125 miles every day from Upstate New York. He said he sometimes thinks about the job’s importance to the city, but mostly he thinks of it the same as one of his previous construction jobs. “At first I was like, ‘wow, look at all this,’ he said. “After awhile, it’s a job.”


October 16th, 2003, 03:51 PM
Has anyone ever proposed using the dirt/rocks from this project for landfill? Is it physically and/or politically possible? It seems like New York City could use the extra land, what with the housing crunch and everything.

On a related note, has anyone mentioned landfill possibilities for the future 7 train extension or SAS projects? I've heard that the Gateway National Recreation Area was the result of landfill from the F train...

February 28th, 2004, 09:39 PM
February 29, 2004


A Shaft as Deep as Residents' Opposition to It


Workers building the city's third water tunnel have been drilling, boring and blasting their way though the bedrock beneath the streets of New York for more than three decades. But with the 8.5-mile Manhattan leg of the 60-mile project's second stage, tunnel planners have run into an obstacle that could be even more formidable than granite: East Side neighborhood activism.

Construction won't reach the East Side for two more years - the Manhattan leg is not expected to be finished until 2008 - but residents have already collected nearly 1,000 signatures opposing plans by the city's Department of Environmental Protection to dig a 200-foot-wide hole for a water distribution shaft on 54th Street near Second Avenue. Dozens of people have attended heated community meetings, and many elected officials, including the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, oppose the plan.

Greg Cranford, a leader of the shaft opposition, says such a project is inappropriate for a corner where there are three residential towers.

"This is a nice, residential, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood that they want to turn into a construction site," said Mr. Cranford, an architect who has lived in the Connaught Tower at 54th Street and Second Avenue for 10 years. "We're not saying don't build it. We're just saying this isn't the right site."

The neighborhood group and its consultants have proposed a spot near the Queensboro Bridge, on the north side of 59th Street between First and Second Avenues, as a less-populated alternative. But so far, tunnel planners are unmoved. Among the factors working against the alternate site is that the city doesn't own the property, said Charles Sturcken, an environmental department spokesman. If the city digs in the middle of 54th Street, he added, it doesn't have to pay for the land.

The third water tunnel, expected to cost $6 billion, has long been defended as a project needed to ensure New York's water supply. Mr. Sturcken noted that additional shafts are being dug throughout the city, adding that none of them have aroused the opposition currently brewing on the East Side.

Mr. Cranford was not apologetic.

"They're accustomed to just overwhelming people with facts," he said, "and the public often doesn't have experts that are able to counter them. We do. They're dealing with an educated populace here."

Arguing that the shaft would lead to increased noise and crime and obstruct fire trucks, he added that East Siders do not plan to give up. "People are ready to lie down in the street," he said. "This is like civil disobedience. I'm serious; we're not going to let it happen."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 4th, 2005, 11:50 AM

Fallen Trees Signal Start of Shaft Work

by Carl Glassman

The first sign that something big was happening across the street was the felling of trees, nine large honey locusts and London Plains. Then it was the sight of men feeding the remains into wood-chippers.

Residents living on Hudson and Laight Streets across from the Holland Tunnel traffic rotary were outraged and bewildered by what they saw.

"I was tempted to run out and say, 'What's going on?'" said Toni Schowalter, of 155 Hudson St., who watched workers quickly chop down four or five "glorious" trees outside her window on Hudson Street. What seemed especially odd, Schowalter said, was that improvements to the rotary, including park-like spaces with benches, walkways and new lighting, had just been completed.

"Everything has been so slow," she said. "Then here they come and in literally an hour or two they pull up the trees."

"Now the trees are all gone," added Schowalter's husband, Pierre Delerive. "The area is covered with gravel and nothing shields us from the view of the traffic out of the tunnel."

For years to come, nearby residents will be seeing more than just traffic outside their windows. Work has just begun on what the city calls simply "27B." In a narrow fenced-off area between Hudson Street and exit lanes of the tunnel rotary, machines will dig one of many shafts that will connect to the second of two sections of the city's Water Tunnel No. 3, now being burrowed into deep bedrock and inching its way downtown. When the 1.5 billion gallons of water a day finally begins flowing through the tunnel, in about 2011 or 2012, it will rise up the shaft to a distribution chamber, just below the ground's surface and into water mains serving Lower Manhattan.

The shaft, 35 feet in diameter, will penetrate 540 feet into the ground, all but 75 feet of which will be through bedrock. The workers will spend nine months drilling a 14-inch wide shaft all the way down. Then they will drill upward, widening the hole to 12 feet, with the debris carried away underground.

Widening the shaft to its full 35-foot diameter will require many months of blasting with dynamite. Boring machinery alone can not do the job, said Ian Michaels, a spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection, the agency in charge of the project. He added that no more than "mild rumbles" will be felt above ground. "I've never heard of any incident or damage," he said.


Once the hole is dug, it will take three more years for the installation of valves, chambers and "a ton of equipment," Michaels said. A crane will be on site to lower men and machinery into the shaft.

As for the trees, Michaels said that they will be replaced when the project is complete. "We're making sure that trees are put back at the end of the day," said Community Board 1 district manager Paul Goldstein, who fielded calls from angry residents who watched the trees being destroyed.

Erica Rooney, who lives at Beach and Hudson Streets, was one of those irate callers. A self-described "tree person," Rooney said she was relieved to learn that the tree removal was not "gratuitous destruction." She said she now closes the blinds of her windows overlooking where the trees had stood.

"I love trees and now I look out there and all I see are cars and the ghost of the trees that were there," she said. "It's just very, very bare."

February 23rd, 2005, 09:22 AM
Well, they were driving sheet pile over here by the HS on Hudson street for about 2 weeks. They closed the parking lot to make the access tunnel there.

They could only have a few hour window to do the driving, starting at 4PM, and our office is less than a block away.

It has got to be one of the noisiest things I have ever heard!!!!

Anyway, I just hope they finish what they need to do. They seem to be lifting the rebar-cages into the hole now, but I didn't see them excavating or removing any soil (maybe they worked overnight....)

As for the East Village, don't you love their quote?

'We know it is needed and we are for it, just Not In Our Back Yard...'

February 25th, 2005, 01:49 PM
They have to make a foundation for the raise-boring drill rig to sit on. Then they will drill the initial 14" hole.

February 25th, 2005, 02:03 PM
By the way-another shaft is currently being excavated at E 4th St and the Bowery(31B) with others getting under way very soon at Lafayette St/Grand St(30B) and Gansvoort St east of Hudson St.(27B)

This is in addition to the two mentioned above-Hudson/Laight(29B) and Hudson/Houston.(28B).

The bulk of the excavated rock will be removed through the tunnel shaft at 30th St and 10th Ave(26B).

The shafts and some of the tunnelling is under a $680 million contract which only had 2 bidders.

December 14th, 2005, 12:50 AM
Shaft project isn’t such a blast, says one neighbor

By Vanessa Romo

The city’s Department of Environmen-tal Protection began rock blasting at two new shaft sites on Nov. 1, entering a new phase of construction on the Manhattan leg of Water Tunnel No. 3. At $6 billion, the tunnel is the largest capital construction project ever in New York City.

Explosives 20 to 30 feet below the surface at E. Fourth St. between Lafayette St. and Cooper Square and at Hudson and Laight Sts. in Tribeca are being used to create new water shafts and chambers that will connect to the water tunnel currently being drilled 550 feet below street level. Once they are connected, the shafts, which measure 25 feet in diameter, will convey water from the tunnels to the surface water-main distribution system.

A series of warning horns are sounded prior to each blast, which last about 10 seconds. City regulations limit the blasts to two per day.

Despite dire reports by the Daily News and WINS news radio about noise complaints and rats running rampant because of the underground explosions, Pi Gardener, executive director of the Merchant’s House Museum, a landmarked building erected in 1832, said effects of the blasting have been minimal. The building at E. Fourth St. is next door to the construction site. “It feels like a subway is below us, but it’s not really very noticeable,” she said.

Gardener said a monitor placed in the basement of the museum by D.E.P. measures the vibrations in the building each time a blast occurs to make sure it is an acceptable level. “We’re being handled with kid gloves,” she said.

Charles Sturcken, a D.E.P. spokesperson, said the agency conducted a thorough environmental impact study prior to drilling and blasting to ensure that the community would not suffer any unnecessary disruptions. The agency also hired a noise consultant who has been advising them on the city’s new noise codes.

“We haven’t had any complaints about the noise of the blasts,” Sturcken said. But the agency is aware of complaints about a hum emanating from the shafts. The noise is a result of a machine that prepares the ground for blasting by freezing it, said Sturcken. “The hum will continue for the duration of the drilling and blasting, which should be another two to three months,” he added.

Underground drilling of Tunnel No. 3, which connects Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, began in 1970. Completion of the project eventually spanning a total of 60 miles is slated for 2020.

Drilling of the latest Manhattan section started in 2003 and runs from W. 30th St. to the Holland Tunnel, at which point a second section loops north from there up the West Side to Lincoln Center. In all, the new Manhattan segment will measure 8.5 miles and is expected to be activated in 2012.

The two sites currently under construction are slated to become public spaces. “The shaft site at E. Fourth St. will be a public garden with benches to meditate and the Hudson and Laight site, which is part of the Holland Tunnel rotary, will be a tree-planting space,” Strucken said.

December 14th, 2005, 07:23 AM
There is another drilling site at Grand / Lafayette (former parking lot).

This, too, is supposed to be converted to "park" space.

December 16th, 2005, 11:14 PM
The "hum'" from the freeze equipment is really noisy. It operates 24/7.

December 19th, 2005, 09:14 AM
There is another drilling site at Grand / Lafayette (former parking lot).

This, too, is supposed to be converted to "park" space.
Court To Rule on Property Rights

By JULIA LEVY - Staff Reporter of the Sun
New York Sun
December 16, 2005


The New York State Court of Appeals in February is scheduled to hear an eminent domain case that could vastly expand the state's power to take New Yorkers' private property for public use.

The case centers around a vertical water shaft, Shaft 30B, which the city is currently building on a 12,500-square-foot lot at the corner of Grand and Lafayette streets in SoHo as part of its decades-old "Third Water Tunnel" project.

December 21st, 2005, 11:23 PM
I took pics down there:



December 22nd, 2005, 09:58 AM
^That's awesome. :)

January 4th, 2006, 08:31 AM
AMnewyork reported today that there will be a 'life-size' sandhog/3rd water tunnel exhibit at Grand Central Terminal next week. Count me in.

January 12th, 2006, 08:28 AM
Photo Exhibit Focuses on ‘Sandhogs’ Who Excavate New NY Water Tunnel

by Associated Press (), published online 01-12-2006

Brooklyn Irish-American Families Have Been in Trade for Generations

BROOKLYN — Eight-hundred feet down, sandhogs, many of whom hail from Brooklyn, are working around the clock toward completion of what has been called the largest construction project in the western hemisphere — the city’s Third Water Tunnel.

But the sound of their giant drill is so buffered by layers of rock that New Yorkers sleep undisturbed, and even the dogs don’t bark.

All the more reason for “The Sandhog Project,” an exhibit of photographs that opened on Monday at Grand Central Terminal, offering glimpses of work being done on the Third Water Tunnel, a huge conduit that will one day carry 280 million gallons of water a day under the city.

The photos are as close as Gothamites will ever get to the $6 billion project, at least until they turn on a faucet around 2015 — the estimated date for the tunnel’s completion — and draw water that has traveled through the 60-mile underground labyrinth from an upstate reservoir.

In addition to cavernous, eerily lit chambers filled with heavy equipment, photographer Gina LeVay’s exhibit includes life-size portraits of sandhogs, a few of whom were present to explain what motivates men to spend their lives underground in one of the world’s riskiest occupations.

Many live in Brooklyn, such as Robert Conroy, who also runs a bar in Park Slope and has been active in the borough’s Independence Party.

“The money. That’s what I go down there for,” said Dennis O’Neill, 54, another native of Brooklyn who has been a sandhog since 1970, when work began in the water tunnel. He also worked on subways and other projects.

“It’s a different world down there,” said O’Neill, standing near a life-size photo of himself. “You start when you’re young and dumb … and after a while you make a name for yourself, then it’s 10 years, next it’s 20 years, next it’s 30 years, and you say, where the hell did it all go — like we all do.”

O’Neill said incidents such as the deaths of 12 West Virginia coal miners who perished underground last week are “in the back of your mind, this type of catastrophe, it’s something you don’t let go, but it’s not something you go down with every day. Otherwise you wouldn’t go down.”

Like others in dangerous work, sandhogs develop a strong camaraderie, he said. “You start out with 100 guys and you shake it out and 20 years later there’s 15 left, and those are your friends.”

The Third Water Tunnel, which will expand the city’s water delivery capacity and provide maintenance access to two other tunnels opened in 1917 and 1936, has cost the lives of 23 sandhogs and a 12-year-old boy who fell into a shaft.

Family Tradition
In New York, where the word sandhog apparently originated during the building of underwater caissons for the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1870s, the job is a family tradition, said Jim McCluskey, 52, whose father and grandfather were sandhogs before him.

In Local 147 of the Tunnel Workers Union, “there’s the Barrs, the Fitzsimmonses, the McCluskeys, the O’Donnells, the Costellos, the Sylvesters, all traditional families,” he said. “I got my union book when I got out of high school.”

He said safety has improved with such technology as the “TBM,” or tunnel boring machine, that since 1980 has replaced some dependence on explosives and improved safety, but it also has cut back on union jobs. There were “once 25, 26 guys in a gang; it’s now down to about six guys,” he said.

Nostalgia brought Dick Erle, 78, to the exhibit, where he recalled his one year as a sandhog at age 19 before he went off to college and became a clinical psychologist. “The work was very hard but it was great when you walked out at the end of the day,” Erle said.

“The operating engineers on the surface — they sit around and tell dirty jokes. A good operating engineer can tell a million dirty jokes without repeating himself,” Erle said. “The tunnel guys — at the end of the day they go to a bar and talk about ‘driving tunnel.’ It’s a way of life and there are very many things about it that I miss very much.”

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2005
Main Office 718 422 7400

February 13th, 2006, 11:44 AM
Well I don't know what Dick Erle was talking about Operating Engineers sitting around telling dirty jokes. I just don't see that happening. I give my respect to the Sandhog but they are not the only ones working on this project. Operating Engineers are a big part of this tunnel job. Without them this job would not move foward !! The following jobs are done by skilled Engineers of both Local 14 and Local 15. They are as follows Crane Operator who brings all the heavy equipment in and out of the tunnel and is also responsible for getting our asses out of there if the Alimak breaks down. The Alimak operator who brings us 550' up and down, the locamotive operator who brings us too and from our work sites in the tunnel which is sometimes 3 miles in and drives the rock and debris back and forth, the Rock Crusher Operator who turns big rock to small for the surface at which a Payloader Operator loads onto trucks for various constuction jobs, the Loader Operators in the tunnels that load the mud cars after they blast with rock and who also clean out the shafts when the Raise Bore is in operation as well as the Various Operators that work on the top of these shafts, welders and burners, the TBM (tunnel boring machine) Operator the most expensive piece of equipment in the tunnel with a great deal of responsibility and who makes the tunnels the modern way which keeps this project ahead of schedual, and the mechanices who keep all the machines working for without them this project would cease. Dick Erle makes it sound like all they do is sit around telling jokes. If that were true this project would come to a halt. Again I say The Sandhog gets my respect but so do I give my respect to my fellow Engineers who deserve more acknowledgement on the most expensive project in NYC history. Forgive me if I left anyone out for I'm still new on Water Tunnel 3.

August 9th, 2006, 08:02 PM
Excavation Work Completed
On Latest Stage Of Third Water Tunnel

NY 1 (http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=61682)
August 09, 2006

Hundreds of feet under Manhattan, workers have finished excavation work on the second stage of the city's third water tunnel project.

The third tunnel already services some areas of Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, but this $1 billion leg of the project takes its reach citywide, though the water won't start flowing until 2009.

The city says work began in 1970 to ease pressure on the city's older tunnels one and two, which were built during the early 1900's.

The entire project is slated for completion within the next 15 years. Once finished, the third tunnel is expected to almost double the city's 1.2 billion gallon per day water supply capacity.

Since breaking ground for the project 35 years ago, 23 workers have died during construction.


Info and up-to-date Map: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/factsheet.pdf

And: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/news/3rdtunnel.html

NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed this report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg swapped his muck boots for street shoes after spending Wednesday morning 550 feet under Manhattan.

"It's just amazing. We went over to 59th [Street] and First [Avenue], and here we are on the west side," said the mayor.

The underground journey marked the end of excavation on the Manhattan leg of the city's third water tunnel, a $1 billion project designed to allow for inspection and repair to tunnels one and two, built during the early 1900's.

“God forbid tunnel one or two collapses, at least we'll have a backup and the city would continue,” said Bloomberg. “Without that backup, the city couldn't survive without water."

This tunnel is eight and a half miles long, running from West 30th Street in three directions: South to Lower Manhattan; north to Central Park, where it will connect with stage one of the project, which runs from Yonkers, through the Bronx and into Manhattan before heading into Astoria, Queens; and crosstown before heading north near the Midtown Tunnel.

"It's hard to express the complexity of it, just some of the things that need to take place. It's different from regular construction," said sandhog Dennis McGuire.

Working in the tunnel is both difficult and dangerous. Twenty-three sandhogs have died since construction began in 1970.

It's not hard to imagine how. There's only one way in and out of the tunnel, which is nearly 60 stories underground.

Ed DePinter operates the crane that handles all the equipment going or coming out.

"I started working about 18 years ago on the tunnel, and I have been a part of it for most of my career as an operating engineer,” he said. “It is something to be proud of, and I didn't think I’d ever see the end of it "

He’s not the only one. The tunnel project has spanned six administrations. It's the largest infrastructure project in city history.

“It's one of those things nobody appreciates while you're doing it,” said Bloomberg. “They don't want to spend the money. They say, 'Oh, let the next generation do it.' But if we want to leave our children and grandchildren a better world, we have to invest in these kinds of things."

Once finished, the third tunnel is expected to almost double the city's 1.2 billion gallon per day water supply capacity.

The Manhattan section of the tunnel is expected to be completed 2012.

- Rebecca Spitz

Copyright © 2006 NY1 News

August 10th, 2006, 01:56 AM
Tunnelers Hit Something Big: A Milestone

Pool photo by Mary Altaffer
Chris Casatelli, a maintenance engineer, in Water Tunnel No. 3 on Wednesday,
as excavation ended on an 8.5-mile Manhattan segment that was begun in 2003.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/nyregion/10tunnel.html?ref=nyregion)
August 10, 2006

It is the biggest public works project in New York City’s history: a $6 billion water tunnel that has claimed 24 lives, endured under six mayors and survived three city fiscal crises, along with the falling and rising fortunes of the metropolis above it.

Yesterday, the city’s Water Tunnel No. 3 reached a major milestone, as workers completed the excavation of an 8.5-mile section that connects Midtown and Lower Manhattan to an earlier section under Central Park. The tunnel is a multi-decade effort spanning four stages; yesterday’s announcement signifies the end of excavation for the second of those stages.

It was a major step forward for the tunnel, which was authorized in 1954, begun in 1970 and then halted several times for lack of money. The completion of the second stage will nearly double the capacity of the city’s water supply, currently 1.2 billion gallons a day, and provide a backup to two other aging water tunnels, allowing them to be closed, inspected and repaired for the first time since they opened, in 1917 and 1936.

“Future generations of New Yorkers will have the clean and reliable supply of drinking water essential for our growing city,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, before he descended 550 feet into the city’s lower bedrock and sat at the controls of a 70-foot-long tunnel-boring machine, as it excavated the last eight inches of quartz, granite and silica.

Since 2003, the giant excavating machine’s 27 rotating steel cutters, each weighing 350 pounds, have chipped through the bedrock at a rate of 55 to 100 feet a day, more than double the 25 to 40 feet that could be excavated each day under the old drill-and-blast method.

The Third Water Tunnel originates at the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, just across the border between the Bronx and Westchester County. The reservoir is fed by aqueducts that carry water from the Catskill and Delaware water systems, which usually provide 90 percent of the city’s water supply.

From the reservoir, the first stage of the tunnel reached south into the center of the Bronx, then west across the Harlem River into Upper Manhattan and then down the west side of Manhattan and east into Central Park, crossing under the East River and into Astoria, Queens. That 13-mile first stage cost about $1 billion. It was begun in 1970, completed in 1993 and opened in 1998.

The second stage, which extends the first stage south into Midtown and Lower Manhattan and east and south into Queens and Brooklyn, is complicated.

The Brooklyn-Queens section — actually two separate tunnels, linking Red Hook, Brooklyn, via Maspeth, Queens, to Astoria — was completed by 1999 and will open by 2009.

The new 8.5-mile Manhattan section, begun in October 2003, resembles three spokes radiating from a central point roughly below the intersection of West 30th Street and 11th Avenue. One spoke traveled north to Central Park, the second went to Lower Manhattan, and the third spoke, 2.5 miles long, traveled east to Second Avenue and then north to East 59th Street and First Avenue. That third section was the last to be fully excavated, a step completed yesterday.

The new section must be lined with concrete, tested, fitted with instruments and sterilized before water can gush through it in 2012. The city is also installing at least 10 shafts that will link the tunnel with the water-distribution grid.

Even after 2012, two more stages of the project will remain. Stage 3, a 16-mile segment called the Kensico-City Tunnel, will join the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County with the Van Cortlandt valve chamber in the Bronx. It is in the final planning stages. A proposed Stage 4, extending south from the Hillview Reservoir, through the Bronx and under the East River into Queens, is still under review.

Although Mr. Bloomberg usually avoids direct comparisons with his predecessors, he boasted yesterday about his commitment to the Third Water Tunnel.

“Part of the reason that work on it has stretched through six administrations is that the city’s funding for this project has sometimes dropped off during tough financial times,” he said. “But not on our watch. Even in the first years of our administration, when we faced record multibillion-dollar, back-to-back budget shortfalls, we refused to shortchange this essential project.”

He said his administration had committed nearly $4 billion to the project, or “doubled what’s been invested by the last five administrations combined.”

Around 10:40 a.m., after a news conference at the main construction site in western Midtown, Mr. Bloomberg went down a shaft in a narrow cage-like elevator that fits up to 26 people. He was joined by Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection; a coterie of aides and police officers; and officials from the contractor in charge of the Manhattan section, a joint venture of the Schiavone Construction Company, J. F. Shea Construction and Frontier-Kemper Constructors.

At the base of the elevator was an enormous tunnel — dark, cool and humid — with wet ground coated in a murky gray mixture of mud and sand. The group boarded a narrow railcar for the journey east and north through the tunnel.

After a smooth ride of 15 minutes, the officials left and walked alongside much of the 700 feet of equipment that trails the tunnel-boring machine. About 200 feet from the front of the machine, they entered an operating cab, where Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Lloyd sat. Vinny Crimeni, the main operator, showed them the guidance system that keeps the machine on course and keeps the tunnel straight and smooth.

“I pushed a bunch of buttons, but the real professional was sitting next to me,” the mayor said afterward.

Around 11:20 a.m., Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Lloyd left the cab. Using big black felt-tip markers, they signed their names on the tunnel wall, then posed for pictures with the sandhogs, as the tunnel diggers are called.

One sandhog, Jim O’Donnell, a brakeman on the small train, said the event filled him with pride. Many of the workers are of Irish or West Indian descent and many are carrying on a family tradition of working underground.

“At least half the guys who work down here, I’ve worked with their fathers,” said Mr. O’Donnell, 44, whose older brother, 47, also works on the tunnel.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

August 10th, 2006, 12:11 PM
The Ninja Turtles are pimping out their home.

August 10th, 2006, 01:17 PM
^ They were sewer dwellers, as any comic-geek would know. :cool:

August 11th, 2006, 01:26 PM
......Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, before he descended 550 feet into the city’s lower bedrock and sat at the controls of a 70-foot-long tunnel-boring machine, as it excavated the last eight inches of quartz, granite and silica.That's a pretty cool thing to get to do. It's good to be the mayor.

January 8th, 2010, 10:19 PM
City Water Tunnel No. 3 Open Spaces: Dream On

January 8, 2010, by Pete

Open space at Grand and Lafayette.










It's been the dream of ever-hopeful downtowners that new green spaces would someday replace the lots where the city has been constructing shafts for the humongous Third Water Tunnel (the biggest capital project (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/news/engineering_marvels_sibl.shtml) in NYC history). This week, community board 2 called an informational meeting to talk it over and interested locals showed up en masse. They asked questions and let their wishes be known for possible future uses, ranging from playing fields to dog runs to "multi-generational use." Lots of good ideas, but not so much space available. There are three sites of varying sizes: one in Greenwich Village South on Hudson Street at West Houston (http://curbed.com/archives/2005/02/17/west_houston_mystery_solved_its_a_water_tunnel.php ) (25,000 sf), a second in Noho on East 4th Street (http://curbed.com/archives/2005/01/31/revenge_of_the_machines_on_east_4th.php) just west of the Bowery (7,500 sf) and another at the edge of Soho on the NW corner of Grand and Lafayette (http://curbed.com/archives/2009/04/17/death_of_super_signage_at_grand_and_lafayette.php) (12,500 sf). Back in 2004, the Department of Environmental Protection—the agency in charge of this project (and the folks who supply us with our water)—agreed to acquire the sites, forever maintaining control of 4,000 square feet at each to allow access to the shafts. DEP also committed to "work with a community group following completion of construction so it may eventually be used as open space." Slowly but surely, that time approaches.

The first phase of construction, where shafts were bored to connect to the tunnel 500 feet down, is complete and the lots have been cleared of construction equipment. But the sites remain fenced off and the surfaces covered with chunks of unfriendly rubble. And there's still big work to come involving installation of valves and connectors, all requiring heavy equipment and room to stage the work. That phase is scheduled to start in June 2010 and won't be fully completed for three or so years beyond that. That takes us into 2013.

Meanwhile, questions remain as to who will pay for and maintain any publicly accessed open space. According to the paperwork (http://nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/040135.pdf) [PDF] approved by City Planning, for each site, "DEP will provide financial assistance in the form of a contribution of at least $400,000 to the “Percent for Art” Program, which is administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs." While work continues the locals are hoping that some interim uses can be allowed on parts of the sites. DEP, while non-committal, agreed to think it over. Discussions, of course, will be on-going.

Engineering Marvels: City Water Tunnel No. 3 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/news/engineering_marvels_sibl.shtml) [NYC DEP website]
West Houston Mystery Solved: It's a Water Tunnel! (http://curbed.com/archives/2005/02/17/west_houston_mystery_solved_its_a_water_tunnel.php ) [Curbed]
Revenge of the Machines on East 4th (http://curbed.com/archives/2005/01/31/revenge_of_the_machines_on_east_4th.php) [Curbed]
CPC Calendar No. 15 - C 040135 PCM (http://nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/040135.pdf%3C/a) [NYC CPC website]

http://curbed.com/archives/2010/01/08/city_water_tunnel_no_3_open_spaces_dream_on.php#mo re

May 17th, 2010, 05:59 PM
http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/8880/watertunnel01c.th.jpg (http://img193.imageshack.us/i/watertunnel01c.jpg/)

Work has begun to re-landscape the stretch of Hudson St at Laight and Beach, where a riser shaft was drilled 600 ft down to water tunnel #3.

September 17th, 2010, 09:08 PM
Grand Street to be Under Construction for More Than 5 Years

http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/watertunnel1-300x194.jpg (http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/watertunnel1.jpg)
Water Tunnel #3, under construction since 1970. (click to enlarge photos)

It’s a $6 billion undertaking that began in 1970 and won’t be completed for another decade — the largest capital project in New York City history. Now, the construction of Water Tunnel #3 is going to be making its mark on the Lower East Side. Last night, Community Board 3 got a glimpse of what’s ahead on Grand Street.

In a nutshell, a huge stretch of Grand (from Essex to Broadway) is going to be impacted in a major way, starting next spring. The installation of a new water distribution shaft, necessary to make the tunnel operational, will take five-and-a-half years. In an informal presentation, officials with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) said the project would entail reducing Grand Street to one lane of eastbound only traffic (plus a bike lane). There will be a detour between Essex and Forsyth, to accommodate westbound traffic.

The $19 million job will be conducted in two phases. Work will begin in the spring on a section from Broadway to the Bowery. When it’s completed, in about two years, the Bowery to Essex portion of the water shaft will be installed. DDC community liaison, Norberto Acevedo, told members of CB3′s transportation committee that the project would also involve replacing parts of the sewer system, as well as sidewalks. To enhance pedestrian safety, curb extensions will be added at two intersections: Grand & Essex (SE corner) and Allen & Grand (SW & SE corners).

http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/grandstreet-300x225.jpg (http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/grandstreet.jpg)

Susan Stetzer, CB3′s district manager expressed concerns about the impact on small businesses. Shops on Grand Street have been hit hard by the economic downturn. Many business owners also say the bike lanes installed a couple of years ago have made deliveries difficult and discouraged customers (many of whom drive-in from outside the neighborhood) from patronizing their stores. The upcoming construction project is sure to cause new anxiety. Stetzer asked whether the city would consider subsidies to help businesses get through the ordeal.

While officials did not have an immediate response, they said last night’s briefing was only the first of many opportunities the community would have to learn about their plans. Acevedo said the city had not even begun soliciting bids for this phase of the project. He indicated the city was willing to work with businesses to make the hassles as painless as possible.

http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/waterpipe.jpg (http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/waterpipe.jpg)
Installation of water pipe in Tribeca.

http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/waterpipe.tiff (http://www.thelodownny.com/leslog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/waterpipe.tiff)Stetzer said she was also concerned about the detours, especially since there so many construction projects going on at the same time. The rehab of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, as well as the reconstruction of Houston Street are already causing major traffic headaches.

The water tunnel project has been a big issue in other neighborhoods. Just this week (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704190704575490161559172930.html), there have been numerous reports about the impact its having in Tribeca.


March 3rd, 2011, 07:02 PM
The riser shaft at the St John's Rotary is known as #29B. Last autumn, a project (http://www.lowermanhattan.info/extras/pdf/071410_HudsonSTProjectpres.pdf) was begun to install a trunk main along Hudson St from Laight St to Worth St, and distribution mains on 4 streets.

The main on N Moore will tie into a trunk main that was installed under the bikeway when West St was reconstructed. That's what's going on near pier 25.

http://img219.imageshack.us/img219/8880/watertunnel01c.th.jpg (http://img219.imageshack.us/i/watertunnel01c.jpg/) http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/4472/watertunnel02c.th.jpg (http://img153.imageshack.us/i/watertunnel02c.jpg/) http://img849.imageshack.us/img849/9707/watertunnel03c.th.jpg (http://img849.imageshack.us/i/watertunnel03c.jpg/)

March 3rd, 2011, 09:05 PM
What they're digging up there is really really stinky.

March 4th, 2011, 08:04 AM
No sh.t?


October 16th, 2013, 11:27 PM
Bloomberg opens city's $4.7 billion Water Tunnel No. 3, the backup for main tunnel

At a ceremony 150 feet beneath Central Park, Mayor Bloomberg opened the spigot for the Manhattan section of the gigantic water tunnel. The project began in 1950, and work got under way in 1970.

By Mara Gay (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Mara Gay) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 8:50 PM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1487909.1381969833!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/tunnel17n-5-web.jpgSusan Watts/New York Daily News

Mayor Bloomberg announces completion and activation of the Manhattan portion of the Water Tunnel No. 3 on Wednesday.

Let it flow!
Mayor Bloomberg on Wednesday opened the spigot for the city’s gigantic Water Tunnel No. 3, allowing 350 million gallons of water to course beneath Manhattan each day.

Planning for the massive $4.7 billion project began in 1950 and work got under way in 1970. Twenty-four people have died during the construction so far.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1487907.1381969829!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/tunnel17n-7-web.jpgSusan Watts/New York Daily News

The opening of Water Tunnel No. 3 will reduce Manhattan's dependence on a single water tunnel, Bloomberg said.

When fully completed in 2021, the tunnel will stretch for more than 60 miles, from reservoirs north of the city to Brooklyn and Queens.
Bloomberg opened the section that runs under Manhattan.
The new tunnel will serve as a backup to the city’s principal water tunnel. Its completion also will allow engineers to inspect the old tunnel for the first time since 1917.
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1487911.1381969836!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/tunnel17n-3-web.jpgSusan Watts/New York Daily News

The $4.7 billion project began in 1950, and work got underway in 1970. Twenty-four people have died during construction so far.

“Until today, if there was ever a major failure of Water Tunnel No. 1, the potential for public safety consequences in Manhattan could have been really grim,” Bloomberg said.
He spoke at a ceremony 150 feet beneath Central Park. Officials insisted the location remain a secret for security reasons.
The city Water Board has pushed through years of rate hikes to pay for the tunnel. Bills are projected to continue to increase 7.5% a year in each of the next three years.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bloomberg-opens-spigot-4-7b-water-tunnel-3-article-1.1487914#ixzz2hwiZP7zm

October 17th, 2013, 06:11 AM
Guess the location. :)


October 17th, 2013, 06:44 AM
Not the Catskills :).

October 17th, 2013, 04:26 PM
Apparently there are huge leaks in the existing tunnels that need fixing. I don't know if the third tunnel is going to allow them to shut down the necessary sections.

October 17th, 2013, 06:32 PM
#3 is designed to allow either #1 or #2 to be shut down.

October 18th, 2013, 11:28 AM
This is all north of the third tunnel.


November 19, 2010

Bypass Planned for Leaky New York Aqueduct

By MIREYA NAVARRO (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/n/mireya_navarro/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

New York City plans to build a three-mile-long tunnel to divert water from a leaking aqueduct (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B00E3D71739F931A25750C0A9649C8B 63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all) that carries from the Catskills about half of the city’s drinking water, officials announced on Friday.
The tunnel, to be built under the Hudson River and parts of Dutchess and Orange Counties, will address a problem that has daunted the city since leaks were first discovered in the Delaware Aqueduct in 1988: some 15 million to 35 million gallons of water, coming down from the Catskills, have been escaping daily through cracks.
The tunnel will bypass the worst of two leaks, said Caswell F. Holloway, the city’s environmental commissioner. Construction work is expected to begin in 2013 and be completed by 2019 at a cost of about $1.2 billion, officials with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said. Officials said that cost, spread out over nine years, was built into the department’s capital program.
For years, the city has faced criticism for its long delays in stanching leaks in two sections of a 45-mile stretch (http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/04/nyregion/city-concedes-leak-in-aqueduct-but-likens-it-to-open-hydrants.html) of the aqueduct known as the Rondout-West Branch tunnel, in Orange and Ulster Counties. The cracks in that branch, which was completed in 1944, have caused chronic flooding in the Ulster hamlet of Wawarsing.
Environmental groups accused New York City of dragging its feet (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/huge-leaks-in-aqueduct-threaten-new-york-water-crisis-653774.html), and a 2007 report by the state comptroller (http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093007/05n7.pdf) criticized city officials for failing to “adequately monitor the extent and nature of the leaks” and to establish “an adequate plan to protect the public in the event of a sudden or imminent substantial loss of water.”
New York City officials countered that they faced a challenge in identifying a way to halt the leaks while enabling them to get enough water to the city. Studies of the problem have involved sending robotic vehicles and deep-sea divers into the aqueduct in recent years to inspect and photograph the cracks.
Their plan calls for constructing a bypass tunnel at depths of 600 to 800 feet from Newburgh, in Orange County, under the Hudson to Wappinger, in Dutchess County. The aqueduct will be shut down for eight months to a year beginning in 2018, to allow workers to connect the tunnel in the last phase of the project.
“We’ve settled on a design for a fix, and we’re moving ahead doing that design and taking steps to address the leak,” Mr. Holloway said in an interview.
The leaking portion of the aqueduct would then be sealed and its use discontinued, the officials said.
During the shutdown, engineers will also enter the aqueduct to repair smaller leaks at Wawarsing from inside the tunnel, the officials said.
The 85-mile-long aqueduct, among the world’s largest, is one of two systems bringing water from upstate reservoirs to eight million residents in New York City and another one million people in Orange, Putnam, Ulster and Westchester Counties. The other is the Catskill system.
The shutdown will require lining up other sources for the 500 million gallons of water that the Delaware Aqueduct carries each day from the Rondout Reservoir in the Catskills. About 290 million gallons would come from the New Croton Aqueduct in Westchester County, which is now used only as a backup water source until a filtration plant in the Bronx is completed in 2012.
The city plans to spend another $900 million in water supply projects to make up for the loss of the aqueduct during construction. It has already spent more than $300 million to prepare for long-term repairs of the aqueduct, as well as better monitoring of tunnel conditions and repair methods.
Designed to last at least a century, the aqueduct’s troubled Rondout-West Branch section, which reaches depths of up to 1,200 feet, developed leaks a few decades after its completion. In the Wawarsing area, the tunnel has cracked along a 500-foot stretch. At Roseton, officials said, the cracks run along 5,000 feet.
Mr. Holloway said the leaks had penetrated the tunnel’s concrete lining but were also found in areas where the branch passed through limestone, which is softer and more vulnerable to water corrosion than the harder rock of sandstone and shale found elsewhere in the tunnel’s path.
But the commissioner said monitoring showed that the amount of water leaking had not increased since 2002 and did not pose the risk of an emergency, like a collapse. “We don’t see a substantial risk of this getting worse,” he said.
In a statement on Friday, the Ulster County administrator, Michael P. Hein, called the plan “a real and substantive solution.”
“In light of the hardships being encountered by the residents of Wawarsing, time is clearly of the essence,” he said, adding that the bypass “will not only eliminate the problem for the residents of Wawarsing, it will have profound economic benefit to our area through job creation.”
Paul Gallay, executive director of Riverkeeper (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/riverkeeper/index.html?inline=nyt-org), said the plan was a sensible approach. “It’s a big investment in solving a big problem,” he said, adding that the city should also move to compensate homeowners affected by the leaks for damages suffered.
Mr. Holloway said that other solutions, like bypassing the entire Rondout tunnel altogether, had been considered, but that the idea was dismissed as unnecessary.
“We know where the leaks are and why,” he said.
Another possibility was to drain the aqueduct for a longer time to repair it from within, but that raised uncertainty about how long the aqueduct would be out of service.
“You want to know how long the water is going to be off so you know where the supplemental water is going to come from,” Mr. Holloway said, adding, “It’s absolutely critical to get it right.”


The Third Tunnel project is completely below the Hillsview reservoir.


October 19th, 2013, 08:07 AM
Two different issues.

Bypassing the feeder aqueducts from the reservoirs still would not have permitted shutting down tunnels1 or 2 unless tunnel 3 was built.