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December 28, 2001

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600)

DEP Announces Groundbreaking for Expedited Construction of City Water Tunnel No. 3 in Manhattan

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presided today over the Ground Breaking Ceremony for construction of the second and last portion of Stage 2 of Tunnel #3 at shaft 26B in Manhattan. At the Ceremony, which took place on Friday, December 28, at 1:30 p.m. on 10th Avenue between 30th and 31st Streets, Commissioner Miele detailed plans for the Manhattan link to the Brooklyn/Queens portion of Stage 2.

Stage 2 is being built in two sections at a cost of $1.5 billion. The Manhattan section, announced today, will start in Central Park, run south along the East Side to the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge, turn west and run north along the West Side, terminating in the vicinity of 60th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It will be completed in 2008. The Brooklyn-Queens portion of Stage 2 of the Tunnel was completed in May 2001 and will begin delivering water in 2004. Stage 2 in Manhattan will be built at an average depth of 550 feet below ground. The overall maximum depth of Tunnel #3 is 800 feet below ground with diameters up to 24 feet.

Commissioner Miele said: "The Third Water Tunnel is New York City's largest capital project. But it is also much more. When completed, this 60-mile-long engineering marvel will be a tribute to the extraordinary talent and dedication of those who toiled on this project over the years, and we are all immensely proud of their expertise, commitment and accomplishments."

City Tunnel No. 3 is part of the City's Capital Improvement Program, which provides for the rebuilding of the City's infrastructure. When completed in 2020, it will have cost approximately $5.8 to $6 billion, financed through the sale of water bonds and the collection of water and sewer charges.

The Tunnel is being built in four stages. Stage 1, which runs for a length of 13 miles, was completed at a cost of $1 billion. It runs from Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers through the Bronx into Manhattan, under Central Park, the East River and Roosevelt Island to Astoria, Queens. This first stage began transporting water in August 1998.

Activation of Stage 1, completion of the first portion of Stage 2, and the current work to begin on the final section of Stage 2 represent Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's commitment to set accelerated goals and expedite plans to meet the City's needs. At an activation ceremony for Stage 1 in August 1998, Mayor Giuliani said, "The size and length of the tunnel, and its sophisticated controls represent state-of-the-art tunnel construction and will provide a great service to all New Yorkers by ensuring the reliability of the finest water supply system in the world."

Construction of Stage 3 involves forging a 16-mile-long section extending from the Van Cortlandt Park Valve Chamber, which is the control center of City Tunnel #3, to the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County. The Kensico collects water from the Catskill and Delaware Systems, which provide about 90% of water supply. At the completion of Stage 3, the Tunnel will operate at greater pressure and will also provide an additional aqueduct to supply water to the City that will parallel the Delaware and Catskill Aqueducts. Stage 4 will deliver water to the eastern part of the Bronx and Queens. This final stage will be 14 miles long and will travel from Van Cortlandt Park under the East River into Queens.

New York City's water originates as far as 125 miles north and west of the city in three watersheds, comprising 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes, and covers a total area of almost 2,000 square miles. This water flows through aqueducts to balancing reservoirs that establish a uniform height for water coming from reservoirs with different elevations. From this point on, water travels through the City's three water tunnels into the City's 6,600 miles of water mains delivering 1.3 billion gallons of drinking water to over eight million consumers in the five boroughs and another million people in four upstate counties. For most of the 20th century, water was conveyed into the City by two tunnels, No. 1, completed in 1917, and No.2, completed in 1936. Both tunnels are constructed deep within the bedrock of New York City.

As early as the 1950s, the City recognized the need for a third water tunnel, and started construction of Tunnel #3 in 1970. The combination of Stages 1 and 2 will provide the New York City Water Supply System with the ability to bypass one or both of City Tunnels No. 1 and 2, which will allow for inspection and any needed repairs, for the first time since they were put into operation.

Because the Tunnel Project was conceived several decades ago, the City subsequently was able to develop and implement certain technological innovations to expedite construction. Acceleration of Stage 2 was achieved by use of a mechanical rock excavator called a tunnel-boring machine (TBM). This machine, which is lowered in sections and assembled on the tunnel floor, eventually to a length of up to 85 feet, chips off sections of bedrock through the continuous rotation of a series of rotating steel cutters. The TBM replaced conventional drilling and blasting methods used during the construction of Stage 1 and allows for faster and safer activation; it will be used in Stages 3 and 4 as well.

When construction of this giant tunnel is completed, it will provide New York City with an alternative source of water delivery; reduce peak flows; facilitate the repair and inspection of the City's two other tunnels; and increase our ability to deliver water to consumers.

Commissioner Miele said, "This ceremony memorializes those sandhogs and operating engineers, 24 in all, who selflessly gave their lives in the construction of this project. Our lasting gratitude goes out to these heroes and their families."


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