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East Side Access Facts

  • New eight Track LIRR Terminal at Grand Central Terminal
  • 25,000 square feet of new retail space
  • 47 escalators and 22 elevators
ESA project Map

East Side Access is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States with a history that reaches back to the 1950’s when discussions were first held regarding regional transportation planning. The project encompasses work in multiple locations in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx and includes more than 8 miles of tunneling.

When completed, East Side Access will serve approximately 162,000 customers a day, providing a faster and easier commute from Long Island and Queens to the east side of Manhattan in a new 8-track terminal and concourse below Grand Central Terminal.

The revised budget for the East Side Access project is $10.178 billion. Revenue service is forecast for December 2022. Details as presented to the MTA Capital Program Oversight Committee on June 23, 2014 can be found on page 34 in this link.

Tunneling and Excavation: Using a variety of techniques and equipment, the dense bedrock beneath Manhattan and the mixed face soil under Queens has been excavated and cleared to make room for new train tunnels, platforms, service facilities and ventilation and access shafts. Techniques include tunnel boring, cut-and-cover, drilling and blasting.

Concourse and Terminal Construction: At Grand Central Terminal (GCT), a new passenger concourse will be constructed in space currently occupied by Metro-North’s Madison Avenue Yard. Eight tracks and four passenger platforms will be constructed, along with mezzanines and concourses, beneath Park Avenue below GCT’s existing lower level.

Track Realignment, Reconfiguration and Modernization: Along the length of the ESA alignment, new tracks are being built and old tracks are being replaced. In Harold Interlocking – one of the busiest train interlockings in the United States – work is being done to reconfigure and modernize the complex system of switches and tracks that serve four commuter rail systems and a cargo freight rail with the goal of smoothing and speeding travel through the area. Benefits from this work will impact rail passengers using the northeast corridor.

Power and Ventilation Facilities: At selected locations above and below ground, new facilities for ventilating the tunnels and concourse and powering trains are being constructed. In addition, numerous existing facilities are being modernized and improved.

Storage and Maintenance Facilities: In Queens and the Bronx, new facilities for storing and maintaining trains during the day are being constructed.

  • Faster, direct service for Long Island and Queens commuters to the East Side of Manhattan, saving up to 40 minutes off the daily commute.
  • Reduced passenger crowding on trains, subways and in Penn Station.
  • Reduced pedestrian crowding on streets.
  • Increased rail capacity and reduced train congestion in and out of Penn Station.
  • Connections with additional regional transportation options like Metro North Railroad and New York City Transit subways.
  • Reduced automobile traffic and improved air quality in the region.
  • Economic development and intelligent regional land use.

ESA project Milestones

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