The MTA has completed a significant and difficult portion of work for the East Side Access project at Harold Interlocking in Queens, the busiest rail junction in the United States. Earlier this year two crucial sections of mainline track were rebuilt and existing infrastructure upgraded while the Long Island Railroad carried over 300,000 passengers each weekday to their destinations. With close coordination between LIRR and Amtrak, this $26 million contract was completed on time and on budget: more than 9,850 linear feet (1.85 miles) of new tracks, 13 turnouts and related infrastructure was installed both in the northeast and southeast quadrants of Harold Interlocking. This work was completed during three long-term weekday and weekend rail outages across several LIRR tracks with minimal disruptions to train service.
Most of the tracks, switches and infrastructure installed under this contract have already been put into service, easing train congestion throughout the interlocking. This work will bring the last of the four previously-bored tunnels from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to the surface in Queens by relocating tracks and building an 800-foot structure that will connect trains to and from Long Island with the newly built tunnels.
East Side Access is the MTA’s largest capital project, with work across three boroughs and expanding deep below Park Avenue in Manhattan. It is the first expansion of the Long Island Rail Road in more than 100 years and a critical component of the modernization of the Long Island Rail Road. This project will deliver for Long Island Rail Road customers on 11 branches of the railroad, quicker commutes, fewer delays, greater reliability, and more options. LIRR riders will have direct access to Grand Central Terminal on the east side of Manhattan, easing crowding in and around Penn Station. Along with other Long Island Rail Road modernization projects, the completion of East Side Access will enable the MTA to meet the demands of Long Island’s growing population. For more information and photos of ongoing construction, please visit the East Side Access project page on AModernLI.com.