Explosion At 72nd St SAS Station Cavern

I have been so busy over the past few days but I could not ignore the big story from the other day when an explosion occurred at the 72nd St Second Avenue Subway station cavern. While the explosion was of the planned variety, the result of debris & a thick cloud of smoke rising was not. Andy Newman & Vivian Yee of the New York Times have more:

An intentional underground explosion on the Second Avenue subway project at 72nd Street propelled a thick column of debris and smoke into the air and shattered windows above ground on Tuesday.

The authorities said that no injuries had been reported as a result of the blast, around 12:45 p.m., and that work would be suspended.

“We were doing a controlled blast,” said Adam Lisberg, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman, “when clearly something went awry and an explosion was felt at street level.” Photos by a witness published by The Daily News show a violent eruption rising eight stories in the air.

Michael Horodniceanu, president of the authority’s capital construction division, said that workers had been blasting to clear space for an escalator from the street to the subway, but that “we do not know why” the blast erupted up onto the street.

Click here for the complete report.

Following the incident, MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota released this statement:

What happened at the Second Avenue Subway construction site today is completely unacceptable. The MTA is investigating what went wrong and will not resume work at the 72nd Street site until we receive a full explanation for what happened and a plan to make sure it does not happen again. While I am thankful that no one was injured today, I fully understand why neighbors of the construction site are upset. I am, too. The safety of the community is the MTA’s utmost priority. We will continue working with the community to ensure their concerns are heard and acted upon.

It should come as no surprise that work has been completely halted at the location barring a full investigation. I am extremely curious to hear what caused this event to happen, especially considering a similar blast did not go as planned a few months prior albeit with much less damage.

MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu released preliminary findings into the investigation late yesterday afternoon. It turns out that the blast site was not properly equipped to handle the force especially considering the angle & intensity was changed from what was originally planned. Vivian Lee of NY1 has more:

Work remains suspended on a section of the Second Avenue subway line after Tuesday’s blast, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says was conducted at a different angle and intensity than planned, rocked an Upper East Side street and sent passersby running for cover.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, MTA officials said the incident happened during a controlled tunnel blast at the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Second Avenue — an area the agency says was not equipped to handle the force of the blast.

“The force of the blast was concentrated in one particular area. That was not anticipated. The other factor was, the area it was all focused on, was not ever anticipated to take that kind of blow,” said MTA Spokesman Adam Lisberg.

Agency officials say the explosion knocked off the wooden piling and steel plate covering the blast section, allowing debris to fly into the street.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is calling the incident “completely unacceptable.”

While it was somewhat of a chaotic scene with windows shattering, no one was hurt.

MTA Capital Construction President Michael Horodniceanu told reporters on Wednesday that the agency will retain an independent safety consultant for the project and that a blasting consultant will be more involved in the process.

Click here for the complete report.

I agree with the Chairman that this was completely unacceptable. One has to wonder why the original blast plans were changed? Also why were better precautions not taken considering a blast problem occurred a few months prior albeit with much less damage? They need to clean up their act before someone gets hurt!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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