With the New Decade, East Side Access Project Edges Toward Completion

In recent weeks, protracted infrastructure updates have been a significant point of discussion in breaking construction news for Manhattan. In the face of major undertakings that will carry forward with ongoing work for developers and laborers for the next twenty years, there’s some optimism in knowing that another long-standing project in Manhattan may finally see an end in sight. With the 2020s underway, the East Side Access project, aiming to link Grand Central Terminal to the Long Island railroad, may, at last, be on its way to completion. In interviews this year, Governor Cuomo has boldly sworn to this, even if he has to pick up a shovel and do it himself. 

Why Have There Been So Many Delays on East Side Access? 

The East Side Access project has been in development since the 1990s, but the inspiration for it came in the late 1960s. With its completion predicted for 2009, this deadline has been missed by more than a decade now. According to City & State, the project, which would build train tunnels under the East River, has readjusted its deadline at least six times, and the budget has nearly tripled in this time. The hope, when finally finished, is that the new connection will reduce congestion on the LIRR side of things, where demand for steady transportation is growing (with 90 million riding every year), and they struggle to keep up. 

Sources attribute this tardiness to unexpected delays and budget constraints, which are issues that have been discussed at length here at CISleads that tend to sit further and further outside of developer’s hands the longer a project goes on. They are some of the major shortfalls of your average open-ended project, and the East Side Access project, in terms of project length, is not an average anything.

What Remains to Be Done?

Since at least February, sources have been reporting that the hard deadline for completion is December 2022 and not a day later. At that point in time, journalists were given a tour of the progress far beneath the streets of Manhattan, where laborers have been hard at work round the clock. Seven months later, it was reported that still more funding was sought. At the end of the year, then, what will fill the coming two years? 

Thus far, laborers are moving toward the completion of: 

  • The new tracks running under the East River.
  • The new platforms under Grand Central Station.
  • A new entrance to Grand Central Station at 48th street, as well as repairing a rail connection in Queens that has gone without refurbishment for some time.

The MTA assures that the deadline is in place, and the budget at $11.2 billion, will not go a penny over. Once open in 2022, the new connections are expected to reduce congestion in LIRR and show at least a 50 percent increase in commuters from Long Island and Queens into Manhattan.

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