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Queens Midtown Tunnel Rehabilitation

Super Storm Sandy hit the greater New York City area in 2012, flooding the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Although the 1.25-mile-long, twin-tube roadway tunnel was pumped out, inspected and opened to traffic within 11 days, the MTA Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority was concerned with the lasting effects of saltwater damage to tunnel components.

OHLA USA company, Judlau Contracting, Inc., replaced tunnel’s electrical, lighting, communications, monitoring and control systems. Structural work at the tunnel included replacement of catwalks, duct banks, wall tiles, ceiling finishes, polymer panels, curbs, and gutters. Restoration and mitigation efforts encompassed tunnel’s midriver pump room, where new submersible pumps were installed, as well as replacement of the fire line system in both tubes and the complete rehabilitation of the Manhattan Exit Plaza. Judlau also installed roadway LED lighting, exit signs, lights, and emergency phones.

Construction was performed during overnight tube closures, where one tube remained open, carrying traffic in both directions. Both tubes were restored to full capacity at the end of every work shift, prior to morning rush-hour traffic to Manhattan.

The team implemented several value-engineering proposals to expedite the project completion. Open cut light trench, featuring a stainless-steel frame and fireproofing boards between light fixtures, was replaced with a solid tiled concrete wall that encased electrical conduits but exposed all light fixtures and pull boxes. The team replaced independent specified wall lighting and control system with a simplified lighting/communication/ control system which reduced the amount of hardware needed and provided a more modern and reliable system. Judlau also changed the catwalk from the specified precast U-shaped catwalk to a barrier-faced catwalk, which expedited installation and provided more room to house conduits within the catwalk.