New York City Water Tunnel No. 3
New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 is the largest construction project in New York history. It is being built by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to provide New York City with a third connection to the Upstate New York water supply. The tunnel will be more than 60 miles (97 km) long and will cost over $6 billion. Construction began in 1970 and will not be completed until 2020.
Stage One 
The project was authorized in 1954. The city determined that it needed a third water tunnel so that Tunnel Nos. 1 and 2 could be closed for inspection and repairs. Stage One construction of Tunnel 3 began in 1970 and completed in 1993. This portion was put into service in 1998 and cost about $1 billion.
This first section was bored through bedrock between 250 feet (76 m) to 800 feet (240 m) underground, using drilling and blasting techniques. Section one is 13 miles (21 km) long and starts at Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, New York then crosses under Central Park in Manhattan, to reach Fifth Avenue at 78th Street. From there it runs under the East River and Roosevelt Island into Astoria, Queens. It is a concrete-lined tunnel that is 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. It is then reduced to 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter to increase the pressure,[clarification needed] so that the water will rise through 14 vertical shafts.
Stage Two 
Stage Two is being built using tunnel boring machines. The Brooklyn and Queens section runs 5.5 miles (8.9 km) and begins in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It runs through Park Slope, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick before reaching Maspeth, Queens. It connects to the Richmond Tunnel for Staten Island. From Maspeth it runs through Woodside and Astoria. The Brooklyn section will be 16 feet (4.9 m) in diameter, and the Queens section will be 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter.
The Manhattan section will be 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter and run for 9 miles (14 km). It will begin at the valve chamber in Central Park and run south along the west side of Manhattan and curve around the southern end of the island and come partially up the Lower East Side. A spur of the Manhattan tunnel begins on the west side at approximately 34th Street, goes to the east side and then turns north under Second Avenue to about 59th Street. This section of the tunnel was completed in 2008. The construction of riser shafts is expected to be completed in 2013.
Stage Three 
What used to be called Stage Three is now being referred to as a separate project, the "Kensico-City Tunnel." It will be 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter, running from the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester to the Van Cortland Valve Chamber complex in the Bronx.
Stage Four 
Valve chambers 
The largest valve chamber is in Van Cortlandt Park. It is built 250 feet (76 m) below the park surface. When completed it will control the flow of water from the city's Catskill and Delaware systems. These systems provide 90 percent of the city's current drinking water. The Van Cortlandt Park Valve Chamber is 620 feet (190 m) long, and 43 feet (13 m) wide and 41 feet (12 m) high. The complex has nine vertical shafts; and two manifolds. Each manifold is 560 feet (170 m) long and 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter. It will be finished in 2020.
Since 1970, when construction on the tunnel began, 24 people have died in construction-related accidents. This includes 23 workers and a 12-year-old boy who died playing at a construction site in the Bronx.
- New York City Water Tunnel No. 1 completed 1917
- New York City Water Tunnel No. 2 completed 1936
- New York City Water Tunnel No. 3 began 1970, estimated completion in 2020
Popular culture 
- Scenes from the 1995 film Die Hard with a Vengeance were filmed in Tunnel No. 3.
- Payback, a 1997 novel by Thomas Kelly, includes "the twenty-three men who have died building New York City Water Tunnel Number Three" among those to whom it is dedicated. Billy Adare, one of the principal characters, is a sandhog working on the tunnel whose father was killed in the early stages of its construction.
- The CSI: NY episode "A Man a Mile" deals with the death of a sandhog during construction of Water Tunnel No. 3.
- In Spider Robinson's novel Night of Power, Tunnel No. 3 is depicted as an abandoned project, taken over as the secret headquarters for a revolutionary movement.
- The Nova episode "The Hidden City" (Oct. 3, 1989) included a segment on the construction of the tunnel.
See also 
- "Tunnelers Hit Something Big: A Milestone". New York Times. August 10, 2006. Retrieved 2011-12-15. "It is the biggest public works project in New York City’s history: a $6 billion water tunnel that has claimed 24 lives, endured under six mayors and survived three city fiscal crises, along with the falling and rising fortunes of the metropolis above it. ..."
- New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)(2006). "City Water Tunnel No. 3." Fact Sheet.
- water-technology.net "New York City Tunnel No. 3, United States of America". Net Resources International. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
- DEP (2009). "New York City 2008 Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report." p. 6.
- John H. Betts The Minerals of New York City originally published in Rocks & Minerals magazine, Volume 84, No. 3, pp. 204-252 (2009).