A new entrance to the catacombs of Grand Central Terminal will open in Sept. 2011. (Rendering courtesy Metro-North)
In a sense, the East Side Access Project is New York City’s forgotten big construction effort. While the Second Ave. Subway construction is disrupting street traffic and residential life along the Upper East Side, the East Side Access work continues daily far below the surface of the city. Slowly, the benefits of this project will soon be coming online, and Metro-North announced yesterday the construction of a new entrance to Grand Central Terminal as part of the East Side Access work.
This new entrance, set to open in September 2011, will extend the Grand Central entrance options north to 47th St. The street-level access point will be on the side street between Lexington and Park Avenues in the building at 245 Park. The new entrance will feature an escalator from the street to the 47th St. cross passageway and a staircase from the street to the platform shaed by Tracks 11 and 13. Right now, the east end of the 47th St. cross passageway has no outlet.
“This new entrance will be a tremendous benefit to both current Metro-North customers and future LIRR customers by providing a fifth northern means of ingress and egress to the trains,” Metro-North President Howard Permut said in a statement.
“This entrance is an example of how construction can be staged so that customers can enjoy incremental benefits as each element of a project is completed,” MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu said.
Currently, the 47th Street cross passage runs directly below street level from Lexington Avenue to Madison Avenue and has staircases that lead to every train platform on the upper level of Grand Central. From that passageway, commuters can use two walkways to reach the 45 St. cross passageway and connect to all lower level platforms. With these options, those who work north of Grand Central save, according to Metro-North, up to 15 minutes of walking time.
As crews work to build this new entry way, Tracks 11 and 13 at Grand Central will be out of service. The MTA must extend Track 13 south due to the loss of space to escalators and stairs on the northern end of the platform, and to keep a platform 10 cars long, a southern extension is necessary. Metro-North began this work yesterday, and it is due to cost $14 million over the next 20 months. When the East Side Access work is completed in 2016, the LIRR concourse will connect to the 47th St. passageway as well.