It was a year ago that New Yorkers first saw a significant leap forward for the ongoing East Side Access project when Governor Cuomo took an interest. Optimistic eyes looked to a 2022 completion date for a longed-for addition to the metro area’s mass transit system that would connect Long Island commuters directly to Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Some people have wondered whether the project would be stopped due to restrictions
The East Side Access project, alongside more than 250 other major Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) undertakings, still maintains its forward momentum. This steady uptick in work comes with the MTA’s assurances that infection rates among their workers are low and that measures are taken at every job site to maintain healthy, safe standards.
How the MTA’s East Side Access Project Continues to Move Forward
The first stirrings of ideas for this connection date all the way back to the 1950’s, and the current East Side Access project certainly takes some inspiration from that. With more than eight miles of tunnel, according to the MTA, its full scope stretches to work sites in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. It is one of the largest active transportation infrastructure projects in the entire country, and once completed, it stands to serve over 160,000 customers each day.
The question is when completion will happen, and how the MTA intends to get there given current regulations. No official new deadline has been announced, giving the impression that 2022 is still that year to look forward to.
In the meantime, workflow and management has changed significantly to afford a safe but productive work environment, including:
- Re-organizing staff and working crews to keep them separate during working hours.
- Arranging shifts in such a way that a sufficient set of contractors can be on site without too close proximity.
- Daily disinfecting of tools and equipment.
- Strict, stringent policies on temperature checks and reports of any unusual symptoms. No one who is sick is permitted to work.
- Site visits conducted via GoPro, allowing safety and other inspections to continue unabated without increasing the number of people present.
Final, Encouraging News: Low Infection Rate Among MTA Construction Workers
The standards the MTA holds to its firms appear to be effective if the numbers are to be believed. MTA chief development officer Janno Lieber has gone on record stating that only 95 out of 5,400 consultants and contractors working for the MTA in their construction department have tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been no deaths in this department, either. With rising concerns among workers regarding risk of sickness and spreading it to others, even as an asymptomatic carrier, it is important and encouraging to see places where social distancing and other safety measures are working.
Regardless of whether those numbers will change in the future, progress on East Side Access, as well as other major endeavors, carry on throughout the metro area. As a number itself, 2022, continues to look like a hopeful one.