Monday, June 16, 2014

What is going on up there?

Never been through the Lincoln Tunnel or any major tunnel in a convertible or even a car with a sunroof. But I was traveling by bus the other day and the air conditioner was not working, so the driver popped the escape hatches for air. It was the first time I'd ever given much thought to the roof of the Lincoln Tunnel. 

I don't know why I was surprised that it was tiled the same way the walls are.

So what's above the roof? When I was a tot I thought the tunnel lay across the bottom of the river like in a cartoon; that if the sides were glass you could see out to the stuff floating by. Oysters, fish, abandoned cars, Luca Brasi, whatever. But of course the tunnel runs under the riverbed.

The sandhogs who built the thing could only work an hour a day because of the enormous pressure down there. The NYC Roads site tells us that worker safety was a premium: "The result was that the Lincoln Tunnel was the first major tunnel project to be completed without a single fatality."
 Something I didn't know was that the project was done as part of Roosevelt's New Deal package. I wonder if it would have been built otherwise. Probably, because it was needed, but since the tunnel runs from one state to another it may have required the feds to get things going. 

I think the current and previous New York mayors probably would have preferred that this and the Holland Tunnel had never been built, that train tunnels would bring people and supplies into Manhattan to be routed by onsite jitneys or something. 

But that's the difference between the 1930s and now. Back then we believed we might be small, but together we could build big projects and do mighty things: the Lincoln Tunnel, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam... Now we think we're big and mighty but the best thing we can do is tear down stuff that our predecessors built. How many great projects do you know of that have been constructed by the 2009 recovery act, hmm?

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