In a damp tunnel under East Harlem this morning, Governor Spitzer, MTA executive director Lee Sander, and lots of other officials — though not Mayor Bloomberg, who was in Cincinnati campaigning against guns — gathered to break ground for the first phase of a Second Avenue subway. It was actually a wall-tapping, marking the start of preparations for a tunnel-boring machine to expand an existing tunnel dug in the seventies. The line, called the T, will have a royal-blue logo and share stops in its first phase with the Q. Most of the tunnel will be 80 feet underground, said MTA Capital Construction chief Mysore Nagaraja, though the tunnel where the ceremony took place is only about 45 feet down.
Stations on the line will have natural light and column-free corridors (and, according to renderings, odd shards of Daniel Libeskind–esque glass). It will take about seven months to clear the way for the new tunnel, said construction manager Kirit Mevawala, then the machines will dig about 50 feet south each day, stopping at 63rd Street. Officials promised repeatedly that this time the Second Avenue subway will really happen, because Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have lined up real money. Of course, there’s no estimated schedule yet for the full build down to Hanover Square, an MTA spokesman told us. —Alec Appelbaum