Manhattan portion of Water Tunnel 3 finally open

City officials stand at an underground water distribution site 300 feet above parts of the new Water Tunnel 3 in Manhattan. Credit: Spencer T. Tucker/Office of the Mayor
City officials stand at an underground water distribution site 300 feet above parts of the new Water Tunnel 3 in Manhattan.
Credit: Spencer T. Tucker/Office of the Mayor

Early yesterday evening, when New Yorkers turned on their taps in Lower Manhattan, an undetectable change nearly six decades in the making occurred.

Manhattan drinking water, once running through a single 96-year-old tunnel, now partially flows through a new water tunnel and one of the largest infrastructure projects in city history.

Completed yesterday, the Manhattan portion of Water Tunnel 3 is able to transport some 350 million gallons through the borough every day and ensures a critical backup to the city’s three-tube system.

“When I came into office, I asked, what could literally close down this city? A water tunnel failure could really have done that,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, his voice echoing in a cavernous water distribution site some 200 feet below Central Park.

On Dec. 2, 1989, this very nearly happened. A hours-long tunnel failure near street level had officials contemplating a shut-down of water flow from upstate New York’s Hillview Reservoir, which would have left chunks of the city without drinking water.

“If we were to lose one of the water tunnels without backup, parts of the city would be uninhabitable,” the mayor said.

Due to financial ups and downs after construction began in 1970, progress on the project has fluctuated since it was first envisioned by city planners in 1954.

The entire tunnel has cost $4.7 billion so far, $2.7 billion during the Bloomberg administration alone.

“From the outset we said that we would not repeat the mistakes of the 1970s, when the city failed to make vital infrastructure investments,” Bloomberg said.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the project was a testament to the “absolute necessity of long-term planning.”

“It’s entirely consistent with the bold leaders in the city’s history who planned for growth,” Holloway said.

Some 5,000 workers over three generations excavated more than 82 million cubic feet of soil and rock — enough to fill Madison Square Garden more than 200 times — to construct the tunnel so far.

The last pieces of the tunnel will run through parts of Brooklyn and Queens. When those sections are completed in the next few years, the city will be able to inspect and conduct maintenance on Water Tunnel 1 for the first time.

“It’s not sexy, and nobody says thank you, but we should all be sleeping better because of this,” Bloomberg said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

NFL

Giants vs. Cardinals: 3 things we learned

The Giants heard all week about how ragged their new offense has looked, but even when they finally answered the bell they still can’t find a way to win.

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…