Governor Kathy Hochul rode a test train from Jamaica to the East Side Access complex at Grand Central Terminal on Sun., October 31, 2021. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA) Flickr
The project that will bring direct Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal hit a major milestone this weekend. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday rode the first passenger LIRR train into the new concourse at the Midtown East transit hub and gave the public a first look at the terminal. Expected to officially open in December 2022, the East Side Access project will provide direct service to Manhattan’s east side for Long Island and Queens commuters, while also reducing crowds at Penn Station.
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It was announced today that a $60.2 million contract to build the project that will bring the Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal was awarded to construction and development company Skanska. The award represents the final heavy civil contract in the MTA’s largest largest capital project and one that marks the first expansion of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in over 100 years.
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Workers at East Side Access project in 2016 via MTA’s Flickr
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved on Wednesday an amendment to its capital plan that allows for more than $400 million to be invested in the East Side Access, a project that began more than a decade ago. In addition to exceptional construction delays, the project’s price tag has jumped dramatically, from early estimates of roughly $2.2 billion to now over $11 billion (h/t NY Times). As a way to reduce crowds at Penn Station, East Side Access will connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.
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As part of a five-year, $210 million plan to significantly upgrade Grand Central’s subway station, developer SL Green hopes to install new staircases to the train platforms, two new street-level entrances and a refurbished mezzanine level, and a 4,000-square-foot ground-level commuter waiting area. The improvements were conceived in conjunction with the MTA and the de Blasio administration earlier this year as the first component of the Midtown East Rezoning project.
The transit upgrades must all be completed before tenants can occupy One Vanderbilt (planned for completion in January 2020), SL Green’s new 65-story office tower planned for the entire block west of Grand Central and north of East 42nd Street. Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, the tower will be the second-tallest building in the city when completed.
More on the upgrades ahead