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Lhota tells Long Island Association no East Side Access until 2019

Posted by Gold_12TH on Tue May 8 22:02:52 2012

Speaking before the Long Island Association on Tuesday morning, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said plans to add Long Island Rail Road access to Grand Central Station has hit problems, pushing back estimations of its opening until at least 2019.

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

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.

The East Side Access plan is the first major expansion of the railroad system in 100 years, Lhota said, noting that upon completion, it would shave an estimated 40 minutes off commuting time for Long Islanders who work on the East Side of Manhattan and would increase capacity of the Long Island Rail Road by 41 percent.

“There are 800,000 people per day that go through Penn Station,” Lhota said. “And 60 percent of those are Long Island Rail Road riders. East Side Access should relieve a lot of that burden.”

Once it is determined how much of an impact East Side Access has on Penn Station, Lhota said the MTA may look at having the MTA’s Metro North railroad come to Penn Station. Currently only the Long Island Rail Road Amtrak and New Jersey PATH Transit lines run at Penn Station – the country’s largest train station.
---http://libn.com/2012/05/08/lhota-tells-lia-no-east-side-access-until-2019/

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