Sandhog Tommy Gramza, left, a tunnel boring machine mechanic sits...

Sandhog Tommy Gramza, left, a tunnel boring machine mechanic sits on the machine's gripper shield after another tunnel boring machine cut through the bedrock underneath the Port Authority bus terminal. (July 15, 2010) Credit: AP

Workers burrowing through bedrock completed mining Thursday on a new New York City subway tunnel that officials hope will help revive business on the West side of the city.

City and transit officials looked on as workers used a massive tunnel boring machine to slice through a wall of rock 40 feet underground, connecting the new tunnel to the end of and older one.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said extending the subway line will encourage growth in the city’s far West side.

“It will revitalize that area of the city with new business and residences and parks and open spaces and most importantly, particularly now, jobs,” Bloomberg said. The city spent $2.1 billion dollars on the project.

The subway now ends at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue and is being extended to go to 34th Street and 11th Avenue near the site of a 26-acre property along the city’s Hudson waterfront.

Plans for the subway extension originally planned for a second subway stop at 41st St. and 10th Ave., but it was postponed  because the cost of the project was getting too high. Bloomberg said he wants the state and federal governments to pay for the additional
subway station.

Bloomberg has tried to develop the area for years. In 2004, he proposed a cluster of skyscraper commercial buildings near the Hudson River and an adjacent 75,000-seat stadium that could have been used for the New York Jets and for the 2012 Olympics if the city won its bid to host the event, which it did not. Although the stadium has been scrapped, the development is progressing.

But on Thursday, Bloomberg was happy the subway station is on schedule to open near the property, called Hudson Yards, in 2013.

“This is the gold coast of New York,” he said. “This is the one great place in Manhattan that hasn’t been developed.”

Just after 4 p.m. on Thursday, the ground shook and the tunnel boring machine rumbled louder and louder as rocks fell to the floor of the chamber under the Port Authority bus terminal. After a few minutes, dust filled the air and the rest of the rocks fell as the machine’s blades spun in a circular motion, leaving a 22-foot-wide round hole.

Once it was complete, construction workers cheered as their co-workers crawled through a small opening at the bottom into the tunnel.

“It’s amazing. This is the first tunnel I’ve worked on that I’ve been able to see after it was done,” said Mark Litz, 28, a shift engineer from Bellwood, Pa., after he crawled through the boring machine. “I’m glad to get this done.”

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