By Gabriela Resto-Montero
UPPER EAST SIDE — It turns out there is a light at the end of the tunnel — you just need a 450-ton tunnel boring machine to get to it.
The MTA launched the machine Friday that will dig from East 92nd Street to East 63rd Street in the first phase of Second Avenue subway construction.
"There have been skeptics who saw construction start and stop in the 1970s and said the Second Avenue subway would never be built," said Jay Walder, MTA Chairman as he stood before the machine's 250-Ton head.
"This powerful machine is a tangible reminder of the important role that today's MTA capital program will play for generations of New Yorkers to come," Walder said.
Engineers expect crews to dig through to the existing East 63rd Street F-train station by November 2011, said Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction.
Then the machine will be taken apart and reassembled at the East 92nd Street launch box so that it can dig through the eastern side of the tunnel.
Horodniceanu named the behemoth machine "Adi," after his two-year-old granddaughter.
The route carved by Adi will serve the Q-train and a new T-train. The MTA will build new stations at 96th, 86th and 72nd streets to accommodate the line.
The Q-T line is on schedule for completion in December 2016, Walder said.
This phase of subway construction, which includes drilling seven-stories underground, will not disturb residents, Horodniceanu said.
"The northern end, because this is the starting point, has probably been impacted the most," he said of the recent construction and blasting in the neighborhood.
The boring machine emits a low hum while drilling between 50 to 60 feet of rock a day. Only people standing close by can hear the noise, said William Goodrich, program executive for the MTA.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who counted down the start of the drilling on Friday, said construction of the train was an important economic tool that created thousands of jobs and would relieve riders on the congested Lexington Avenue line.
"Believe me, there's a limit to how many people can cram into a subway car," Maloney said.
The "Sand Hogs," as the workers who are building the Second Avenue line are known, were thrilled to finally see Adi in action.
"It's exciting to finally get rolling," said Joseph Sammarco, a mechanic on the project.
"It's been a long wait for this," his collegaue Kevin Brennan, an electrician, added.