New Way Out

by Daniel M. Hahn, (F.ASCE), Sr. Assoc.; Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 1, Pg. 48-50

Document Type: Feature article


An obsolete and hazardous ventilation/emergency-exit shaft on the banks of the Hudson River has been replaced with a deep, dual-shaft system that connects to a 100-year-old train tunnel at Morton Street in New York City. The need for a new shaft became evident in 1982, when fire raged through the train tunnel near the evacuation shaft. Heavy smoke made it difficult for the Fire Department to enter the tunnel and approximately 400 patrons had to be evacuated by a narrow stairway leading up to the street. Although there were no fatalities, the fire demonstrated the need for improved ventilation and better tunnel access for train passengers and emergency personnel. The $60 million construction project was completed in December 1991. The Morton Street shaft project has substantially expanded access to the tunnel for emergency purposes; provided additional ventilation capacity through much-enlarged shafts; and created below-grade space for an electrical substation. The facility includes two ventilation buildings with a center plaza. Each building houses a ventilation fan and emergency ingress/egress stairs—one for each of the tunnels under and near the Hudson River. Geotechnical investigation, design and construction, was done without interrupting train operations or compromising the structural integrity of the tunnel.

Subject Headings: Ventilation | Shafts | Streets | Fires | Emergency management | Evacuation | Stairs | Construction management | Hudson River | New York City | New York | United States

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