The Long-Awaited East Side Access
Being called, America’s largest and most expensive transportation projects, one of historical proportions, the long-awaited East Side Access is well in the works.
Connecting Grand Central Station to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), the busiest commuter rail system in the country, via a new six-mile long tunnel, when finished, it is expected to serve 162,000 LIRR commuters every day. The $10.2 billion project, East Side Access, represents the first LIRR expansion in more than a century.
In total, the LIRR station at Grand Central will be 350,000 square feet, with two upper platforms, two lower ones, and a mezzanine. The terminal under Grand Central will have four platforms serving eight tracks over the two levels. Also being built is a retail and dining concourse.
By creating a new access point at Grand Central Station, the MTA says some commuters who work on the East Side will save up to 40 minutes on their daily commutes. They will no longer have to disembark at Penn Station on Manhattan’s West Side, only to then have to circle back east. As mentioned above, the new terminal will bring over 160,000 LIRR commuters daily from the far end of Long Island through a new Queens station in the Sunnyside neighborhood which will be linked to the 120-foot tunnel under Northern Boulevard. It will be a part of a seven-mile network of new tunnels.
The East Side Access was supposed to cost $4.3 billion when it was first proposed. That ballooned to $6.3 billion in 2006, $8.4 billion in 2012, and is now expected to cost $10.2 billion. However, the project is now on budget, and is expected to remain so until it’s opening. The target completion date is late 2022, which is over a decade later than what was anticipated. MTA officials say the delays were due to the challenges of securing funding and carting away millions of cubic yards of debris from blasting and boring through rock and mud.
At this very moment, the project is said to be about 60% completed. Construction at Grand Central has begun at one of several access points that will connect LIRR passengers with Grand Central Terminal. The construction is taking place at what was the dining and sitting area of Grand Central. From that point, it will be about a two-minute escalator ride down 180 feet to the new LIRR concourse. 2022 can’t come soon enough!
Read more about Long Island and commercial real estate in our previous newsletter articles.