The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) plan to connect the LIRR from Queens to Manhattan is on track to finish ahead of schedule.
Transit workers completed the third of four tunnels underneath Sunnyside Yard for the approximately $8.2 billion East Side Access project, which is planned for August 2019, officials said.
The nearly half-a-mile long tunnel was finished on May 29, and will eventually allow riders to travel eastbound from Grand Central Terminal to the Jamaica and Port Washington stations.
“We are delighted to complete this important milestone,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. He added, “Each piece of the project that we bring in ahead of schedule means we can dedicate resources to those parts of the project that most need attention.”
For the next seven years the MTA has a challenging process to finish the “largest transportation infrastructure project” in the United States.
The agency plans to carve the final tunnel by August of this year, which will serve to transport passengers from Queens to Manhattan.
Then transit workers and contractors will build a station 15 stories below Grand Central Terminal, lay tracks, and install ventilation plants in Manhattan at 44th, 50th and 55th Streets.
The MTA also needs to excavate 100 feet of tunnel underneath heavily-trafficked Northern Boulevard to connect the completed tunnel under the East River to the four tunnels in Sunnyside, while supporting the subway, the streets and an elevated station.
However, the most challenging part of the project will be balancing full service of the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit while workers labor to connect the new track, according to a representative.