As the summer passed and my days escaped me, I noticed that there was a different kind of daily routine to the reworking of the west side of Second Avenue. Having dug up and moved the utilities last fall and into the spring, and then moving to the other side, I watched as the avenue shifted one more time and the work came back over. All summer the work was differentâ€”more cranes, less trenchesâ€”and the now accepted smaller sidewalks no longer had to be re-negotiated on a daily basis. The presence of blue tarps alongside each of the cranes hinted at the dangers that hid behind the protective barriers. I figured the mud or hydraulic fluid that might be spraying from the drilling that Skanska was doing must be relatively common for the tarps to follow each of the cranes that were boring the slurry walls.
All this work for a launch boxâ€”no subway, no T Line for a while. Until a year ago I had no idea what a launch box was. I stumbled upon The Launch Box about that time and was then contacted out of the blue in April by Ben, who has been running the site with photos of the construction. Through his site and the research I was doing last year I came to understand the concept of the launch boxâ€”basically the hole in the ground that they will place the tunnel boring machine in and send it on its merry drilling way. Having seen photos of the launch box for the east side connection of LIRR to Grand Central Terminal I can not wait to see how they manage to get all that machinery into the hole. I doubt that Second Avenue will be open to traffic for quite some time.
As usual members of the crew walked over and started chatting. I got a renewed compliment on the latest illustration by one of the foremen that gave me his card a year ago when I started drawing all the action. The collection of drawings is stacking up and now that I have a better schedule at hand I will be making every attempt to do one a week, every other at the least. Life is changing all around on Second Avenue, but I have a feeling in ten years I may still be drawing some aspect of this project.