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MTA Completes Digging 13 Miles of New Tunnels for Megaprojects

LONG ISLAND CITY — The last of seven huge 200-ton tunnel boring machines completed work this week for 13 miles of new tunnels now under New York City for three MTA megaprojects: East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway and the 7 train extension.

The machine, named Molina by students from I.S. 204 in Long Island City, completed digging the last of four East Side Access tunnels in Queens on Monday, MTA officials said.

Molina came to a halt six feet underneath the LIRR Main Line in Long Island City marking "the end of tunnel boring for the East Side Access project, and in fact, all MTA megaprojects," transit agency officials said in a statement.

The machines started digging in 2007 for the three projects, which aim to make commuting faster and easier.

The East Side Access project, which will connect the LIRR's Main and Port Washington lines in Queens to a new LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, is scheduled to be completed by August 2019.

The 7 train extension is due in December 2013 and the Second Avenue Subway project in December 2015.
“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,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, adding that, “16 brand new, concrete-lined tunnels now exist under New York City where none did five years ago.”
Before service can begin, many other parts of the projects have to be completed, including excavating station caverns; building platforms, stairways, mezzanines, elevators and escalators; laying tracks and the third rail; and installing electrical and signal systems as well as communications equipment.
In order to finish the boring of East Side Access’ final tunnel, the Long Island Rail Road had to temporarily cancel three evening rush hour trains and modify the schedules of an additional eight.

Trains service was expected to return to normal sometime next week, MTA officials said.