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Bloomberg Unveils New Water Tunnel Under Central Park

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It won't taste any different, but water coming into hundreds of thousands of homes is now taking a slightly different route, as Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a long-awaited new water tunnel in Manhattan.

Enter an undisclosed building in Central Park, go down, down, down, and it's there: a new water tunnel, the results of four decades of deadly toil and nearly $5 billion for the most basic of needs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned on the proverbial faucet Wednesday in City Hall Park, hours after visiting the tube that now carries it along an 8.5-mile stretch.

"It's not sexy, and nobody says thank you, but we would at least all, we should be sleeping better because of this," Bloomberg said.

Now that this tunnel is complete, crews can finally shut down and inspect what had been Manhattan's only tube for the first time since that was completed in 1917. That won't be until the tunnel's next spur is done, around 2020.

The bulk of funding came during Bloomberg's tenure. He avoids talking about what comes after he leaves, but he's hoping that the next mayor continue big projects like the tunnel and retrofitting the city for rising sea levels.

"We walked away from our future in the '70s, and what happened is, number one, you delayed projects like this," Bloomberg said. "So we've been running a risk that you really didn't really want to, didn't have to run. Thank God nothing's happened so far. But also, a lot of the infrastructure we had rusted away. It went without maintenance."

There was no visible rust in this section, just leaks, which crews say are normal.

Behind the concrete was thick sheets of bedrock. Drilling through it is dangerous work. Twenty-four sand hogs died, the latest in the '90s.

Eddie Mallon worked on the tunnel when it started in 1970.

"You know, we're in a confined space, and we use heavy equipment, and it could be dangerous," he said.

Along with remembering the workers who died, there was also a feeling of accomplishment that this part was done and a hope the next stage continues.

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