Final Tunnel Boring Machine Ends Work

Built East Side Access Pathways

“Molina,” the machine digging the final East Side Access tunnel, finished its work at 7:30 a.m. last Monday, July 23, underneath the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Main Line in Long Island City.

This marks the end of tunnel boring not only for the East Side Access project but for seven Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) projects since 2007.

For the past five years, the fleet of seven 200-ton tunnel boring machines have chewed up granite underneath Midtown Manhattan and soft ground in Long Island City. Each machine was operated by crews of operating engineers working around the clock.

Each borer sports tungsten carbide rotating-disc cutters on a 22-ft. shield. The machines have built 13 miles of new tunnels, and the crushed rock created in the process has been used to create foundations for golf courses, local parks and New Jersey college dorms.

The East Side Access project is intended to bring LIRR trains into Grand Central Station. Four machines were used to create tunnels under the East River connections Manhattan and Queens; “T.E.S.S.” and “Molina” began their work on the Queens side, at Sunnyside Yards, while “SELI” and “Robbins” started on the Manhattan side at 63rd Street and Second Avenue.

Two more machines, “Georgina” and “Emma,” were used for the 7 line extension project, which will create additional stops in Hell’s Kitchen on the West Side of Manhattan.

The final machine, named “Adi,” was used as part of the Second Avenue Subway project, which will bring additional train service to the Upper East Side.

“Sixteen brand new, concretelined tunnels now exist under New York City where none did five years ago,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota in a statement. “For about 60 years, two generations, the New York transit system was essentially functioning in a status quo, with little action on expansion to meet the needs of a growing region. Today, we are lengthening a subway line, building the first quarter of what will be a new north-south trunk line running the length of Manhattan, and realizing a long-held dream of connecting the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal.”

“The conclusion of tunnel boring,” he added, “reminds us that New Yorkers remain capable of great achievements.”