Lhota: East Side Access won’t be completed until 2019

Rendering of new LIRR mezzanine at Grand Central. (via mta.info)
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M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota this morning told a group of Long Island business leaders that East Side Access, which will allow Long Island Railroad passengers to get off at Grand Central Terminal, rather than Penn Station, won't be complete until 2019, according to Long Island Business News.

"We were originally looking at 2018, but the most recent analyses puts the opening at 2019,” Lhota told the Long Island Association today. “I don’t want to see it go past 2019.”

According to Long Island Business News:

The problem with East Side Access isn’t digging below Grand Central Station, where “cavernous tunnels” have been carved out, but on the Queens side of the project. Tunneling underneath the Queens rail yard near Jamaica, where trains from Amtrak and Acela are stored in addition to MTA’s own vehicles, has become an issue.

Contaminated soil languishes and must be disposed of properly, and unlike closer to the water, the ground is soft rather than rocky. Lhota said workers have also run into springs and brooks that nobody knew existed below the surface. The MTA has brought in experts from Europe to help with developing a plan going forward.

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This is only the latest in a series of delays for the $7.3 billion project, which will include an eight-track terminal for Long Island Railroad at Grand Central.