UK & World News
New York Subway: Huge Project Taking Shape
Sixteen stories below Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, an army of workers is blasting through bedrock to create a massive new commuter rail concourse.
They have hauled out enough rocky debris to cover Central Park almost a foot deep.
"I look at it and I'm in wonder, I'm in awe," said engineer Michael Horodniceanu, president of capital construction for the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"I feel like when I went to Rome and entered St. Peter's Basilica for the first time ... I looked at it and said, 'Wow, how did they do that?'"
The site and two other major projects are costing an estimated $15bn (£9.57bn).
When they are all completed in 2019, they will bring subway and commuter rail services to vast, under-served stretches of the city, particularly the far East and West sides of Manhattan.
The most dramatic project will result in a sort of 21st century, underground Grand Central Terminal mirroring the century-old building above.
But for now, the subterranean hub is a drippy, humid construction site.
The raw, dark grey walls mark the dimensions of the future eight-floor concourse - about 70ft (21m) wide and 1,800ft (550m) long.
The three mammoth projects have required creative solutions and the latest technology.
When crews prepared to drill a giant new cavity under Second Avenue, they first had to freeze the ground to about minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 29 Celsius) so as not to destabilise the buildings above.
The tunnels are coated with a material once used to fireproof the space shuttle.
The new line also incorporates enclosed air cooling plants, instead of ventilation grates that allow rainwater to pour in.
When Superstorm Sandy hit New York last October, floodwaters washing over the East Side did not penetrate the vast subway construction sites.
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