New York City (NYC)
Queens Midtown (1940)
After the resounding success of the Holland tunnel in 1927, a desire to build a second vehicular tunnel was expressed by many New Yorkers facing congestion on the East River Bridges. In 1930 the plan for the Queens Midtown Tunnel was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers; however the lack of funds due to the great depression delayed the project for several years. President D. Roosevelt came to the aid of the project when he approved a $58 million Public Works Administration Loan for the New York City Tunnel Authority. The New York City Tunnel Authority was created by NYC mayor LaGuardia, specifically for the Queens Midtown tunnel project. Although Robert Moses expressed great interest in heading the New York City Tunnel Authority, he was never offered the position, because of the tensions between him and then president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Moses even went so far as to attempt to influence officials to eliminate the New York City Tunnel Authority. He was unsuccessful in this. Robert Moses had proposed a bridge at East 37th street instead of the Queens Midtown Tunnel; his plan required the demolition of blocks of residential and office buildings. Ole Singstad, the talented tunnel engineer who had worked on the Holland Tunnel, was chosen by LaGuardia to head the Queens Midtown project.
The geological variations in the East River made the preliminary work of drilling under the bed rock more costly and difficult. Large circular cutting shields were used to tunnel through the soft soil, and as the shields moved further along, workers lined the tunnels with rings of cast iron. However, the solid bedrock in the East River was blasted with dynamite by the 'sandhogs,' because the tunnel cutting shield wouldn't have been able to do the job. Ole Singstad, knew that bigger tunnels were necessary to accommodate the growing size of the average automobile in the 1930's and 40's, so each tunnel of the Queens Midtown structure was one and a half feet wider than the tubes of the Holland Tunnel. Ventilation for the Queens Midtown tunnel was provided by the buildings located on each side of the East River, and had the ability to replace the air in the tunnels in the span of an hour. The Tunnel itself is made up of two tubes: the north tube is 6,414 feet in length and the south tube is 6,272 feet in length. The digging of the tunnel was done so efficiently that, it was completed months ahead of schedule. There were no casualties from the 'bends,' or decompression sickness which often plagued tunnel and bridge workers. In November of 1940, the tunnel was finally complete. The first person to drive through the Queens Midtown Tunnel was the President himself. The project was a success upon its opening, carrying close to 12,000 vehicles a day in its first year of operation.
In 1946, when the New York City Tunnel Authority and the Triborough Bridge authority merged into one, Robert Moses gained control of the Queens Midtown Tunnel. In mid-1960's, Robert Moses proposed a third tube for the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which would have cost $120 million to construct. In addition to the tunnel, Robert Moses wanted to rebuild the Manhattan Expressway to provide access to the Kennedy Airport from the city. The combined cost of the new tunnel and the expressway was estimated to reach $475 million. This project was never realized. Between 1998 and 2001, MTA bridges and Tunnels invested $132 million to rehabilitate the Queens Midtown Tunnel.  Later in 2004, $19 million was spent on replacing the 23 aging exhaust fans of the tunnel.
Visit Additional Tunnels:
Lincoln Tunnel Holland Tunnel Brooklyn/Battery