Timing is everything. While writing this week’s cover story about the three amazing tunneling jobs that will expand New York City’s subway system, ENR Senior Editor Aileen Cho took a few hours away from work to attend a gathering of tunneling intelligentsia.
She was a guest at The Moles annual awards dinner on Jan. 26, when almost 2,000 heavy-construction experts gathered to honor leading executives Robert E. Alger, CEO of Lane Construction, and Peter O. Shea, executive vice president at J.F. Shea Co. Inc.
In the opening address, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted that, since its inception 75 years ago, members of The Moles have had a hand in every major infrastructure project in the city. “No other group can claim to have changed the landscape—or the underscape—as much as The Moles,” he said. “No group has labored harder for the people of this country and the people of New York.”
Bloomberg recounted his trip underground into the tunnels where he “had the honor of naming two drilling machines for my daughters, Emma and Georgina. I cannot tell you how touched the girls were when I told them that I saw these two gigantic, noisy, dirty contraptions and thought of them. Emma did have the courtesy to come down with me and look at her name on one of the machines. My other daughter said, ‘What, are you kidding me?’ ”
Speaking of the experience, Cho notes, “The challenge of trying to convey the enormity of not just one but three tunneling projects in just eight pages was daunting. But walking through shin-high mud more than 100 feet below Manhattan, seeing vast caverns that someday will be glossy transit stations and watching hardhats hard at work are the kinds of things I love to do.”
Luke Abaffy, multimedia editor and ENR’s newest recruit, joined Cho in the tunnels to make videos about the projects. “I tried to capture on camera what it’s like to be down there, but there’s no substitute for going yourself,” says Abaffy.