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Deep Dig: Tunneling under the streets of Manhattan

Go underground in the Second Avenue Subway, New York City’s first major expansion of the subway system in over 50 years.

Workers are barely visible on the floor of the Second Avenue Subway tunnel, far below 86th Street in New York City on Thursday, May 1. The first phase of the $4.45 billion project to extend the Q line along Second Avenue in Manhattan is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.

Jim Seida

A worker applies a waterproof coating to the inside of the tunnel before it gets lined with concrete. The Second Avenue Subway will be New York City’s first major expansion of the subway system in over half a century.

Jim Seida

Lengths of pre-curved rebar are stacked on the tunnel floor. When fully completed, the line will stretch 8.5 miles along the length of Manhattan's East Side, from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan.

Jim Seida

Welders connect iron support bars during construction inside the cavern of the Second Avenue Subway tunnel at 86th Street.

Bebeto Matthews / AP

At the southern end of the 86th Street Cavern, which will house the 86th Street Station, the northbound (lower left) and southbound (lower right) tubes run beneath what will be a control center for the subway. Sixteen new stations will be built, serving communities in Harlem, the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Gramercy Park, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Lower Manhattan.

Jim Seida

A worker walks south along the new tunnel between 72nd Street and 86th Street in Manhattan. When the first phase of the project is complete, this tunnel is expected to carry 200,000 people daily.

Jim Seida