Cuomo says ‘major construction’ done on costly East Side Access project
The costly East Side Access project to connect the Long Island Rail Road with East Midtown has wrapped up “all major construction,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday — though the new station buried deep below Grand Central Terminal isn’t slated to open until 2022.
The new 350,000-square-foot station “140 feet below Park Avenue” is slated to open 15 years after construction started — and 54 years since it was first proposed.
“This project I did not design, I inherited,” the governor said before taking a tour of the $11 billion megaproject. “We inherited a pit — literally — and we had to dig our way out.”
MTA officials have not said when in 2022 the station will officially open to the public.
The main attraction is four new LIRR platforms 140 feet below the street, which will serve Penn Station-bound LIRR trains when it opens. The platforms will be accessible via 180-foot escalators — the longest in the MTA system.
At the new station’s concourse just below Grand Central, commuters will be met by 25 retail shops and escalator connections to Madison Avenue and the main terminal.
“You have Grand Central, which goes down to two floors. East Side Access is three stories below the existing Grand Central’s two stories,” the governor explained.
“It means you can come into the East Side of Manhattan, as opposed to going to Penn and then having to come all the way back to the East Side. It reduces the commute time by 40 minutes. You now have two stations that you can go into.”
The project and efforts elsewhere to expand LIRR track capacity, are “redesigning the entire Long Island Railroad experience,” the governor said.
The MTA began construction on East Side Access in 2007, four years before Cuomo became governor. The project was initially projected to cost $2.2 billion — one-fifth of its final price tag.
In 2017 the New York Times called the project “the most expensive subway mile on earth” — and reported that MTA officials once discovered 200 of the 900 people hired to work at one project had zero job responsibilities.
The project also included the construction of a new 300-car railyard, the modernization of the Harold Interlocking in Queens, and significant track and electrical work, state officials said.
Officials projected before the pandemic that 150,000 commuters from Long Island would use the station each day.
Published at Thu, 27 May 2021 19:43:07 +0000
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