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Third City Water Tunnel


New York City<br style='line-height:2px'>New York City Department of Environmental Protection

New York City requires 1.3 billion gallons of water daily for its more than 9 million residents. The precarious condition of the city’s aging water tunnels had been one of its gravest infrastructure threats until October 16, 2013 when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the activation of the final 8.5-mile Manhattan stage of the Third City Water Tunnel. The NYCDEP initiated the $4.7 billion construction of Tunnel No. 3 to provide critical redundancy and enable the city to shut down and repair Tunnels 1 and 2 for the first time since they were put into service in 1917 and 1936, respectively. 

HAKS, in joint venture, provided construction management services to the NYCDEP for the $203 million final construction phase of the Manhattan leg of the tunnel. The joint venture worked around the clock at 11 sites to complete the project. This effort couldn’t have been commissioned on time without the utmost support and enduring leadership of the NYCDEP staff. 

The Third City Water Tunnel is the largest construction project in New York City history and one of the most difficult and complex engineering projects in the world. Construction actually began 43 years ago but was stopped several times due to lack of funds. The 13-mile-long first stage of the tunnel, placed into service in 1998, provides water to parts of the Bronx, northern Manhattan and Astoria, Queens. Work on the 10.5-mile Brooklyn/Queens leg of Tunnel No. 3 began in 1993; it will provide redundancy for Tunnel No. 2 when completed in 2021. 

A major facet of the activation of the tunnel is the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) ongoing connections to the tunnel and the improvement of the overall water supply distribution system. DDC is in the process of installing more than 6 miles of trunk water mains and more than 11 miles of smaller distribution water mains in areas heavily congested with sensitive infrastructure. 

The sophisticated control system, placement of valves in special chambers and the depth of the excavation (equivalent to a 60-story skyscraper) represent the state-of-the-art in tunnel technology and enable the city to have a safe, reliable water supply.