Thursday, March 6, 2008
Sandhogs: Who knew?
Who knows what a sandhog is? I didn't, until I worked on Bad Blood by Linda Fairstein in the current volume of Select Editions.
Sandhogs are "urban miners," "tunnel diggers," or basically a group of workers whose job it is to excavate the bedrock beneath New York City in order to build stuff: subways, tunnels, building foundations—and huge water pipes. One of the sandhogs' biggest projects right now is building Water Tunnel Number 3, which is the largest capital construction project in New York City's history. Its purpose: to provide the thirsty city with a critical third link to its water supply system in upstate New York. I say critical, because Water Tunnels #1 and #2 are vastly antiquated, and in theory could fail at any time (Fairstein has some fun with that idea in Bad Blood). Construction on Water Tunnel #3 began in 1970, and is not expected to be complete until 2020. Eventually the tunnel will be more than 60 miles long.
And the sandhogs? They're the men and women doing the dirty work, hundreds of feet underground, 24/7. There's an old saying, "If it's deeper than a grave, the sandhogs dug it." To learn more about the sandhogs—and they are a fascinating bunch—check out their website. And if you want to find out why they're called sandhogs, you'll have to read Bad Blood.