Thursday, July 26, 2012

In New York, ESA tunnel work is completed

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New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority says tunnel boring for its East Side Access project has been completed, clearing the way for infrastructure work, including laying track, for eventual Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

MTA also noted the completion marked the end of active tunnel boring machinery work for all three "megaprojects," also including the Second Avenue Subway and the No. 7 train extension, the latter two both in Manhattan. ESA links LIRR right-of-way in Queens with GCT.

A boring machine, named "Molina" by New York City schoolchildren, halted work underneat the LIRR Main Line in Sunnyside Yards, Queens, marking "the end of tunnel boring for the East Side Access project, and in fact, all MTA megaprojects," MTA said in a statement.

LIRR evening rush hour service had been modified, with some trains discontinued, this summer in part due to the work on ESA in Sunnyside Yards. MTA said normal LIRR service likely would resume next week.

ESA currently is scheduled to be completed by August 2019, though one source tells Railway Age even that oft-adjusted completion date may be finessed, so that a "partial" opening may occur during 2019, with fullscale operation commencing in 2020.

"For about 60 years — two generations — the New York transit system was essentially functioning in a status quo, with little action on expansion to meet the needs of a growing region," said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. He added, 'Sixteen brand new, concrete-lined tunnels now exist under New York City where none did five years ago."