Tuesday, May 08, 2012

MTA's East Side Access Project Faces New Delays

For those hoping that the MTA could get the East Side Access project on track, wonder no more. It will be seeing even more delays now that the construction has run into new troubles at the Sunnyside Yards.
It now appears Long Island Rail Road trains won’t be stopping at Grand Central Terminal until 2019.

That’s the word Tuesday from Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The MTA is building a new tunnel under the East River to allow LIRR trains access to Grand Central. All LIRR trains now go to Penn Station.

Lhota says there have been problems tunneling underneath a rail yard in Queens. The MTA has brought in experts from Europe to help with developing a plan going forward.
Expect that the cost for the project will also increase as a result of missed deadlines and additional costs in engineering around the problems. The problems stem from having to deal with the disposal of contaminated soils and the ground in the construction site is soft rather than rocky. It's interesting that the problems aren't with tunneling under Grand Central Terminal and Manhattan, but in the vicinity of Sunnyside Yards.

Once East Side Access (allowing LIRR trains to access Grand Central Terminal rather than going to NY Penn Station) is completed, it should reduce commute times from Long Island to the East Side of Manhattan by 40 minutes and expand capacity of the LIRR by 41%.

The project began in 2006 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2012, but delays have pushed the completion and commencement of revenue service back to 2014, 2016, 2018, and now 2019. As of 2011, the expected cost of the project was $7.3 billion with a 2016 completion date (which is $1 billion higher than the costs estimated at the outset in 2006).

The latest news will surely mean that the budget will continue rising upwards.

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