Home East Side Access Project For East Side Access, a new Grand Central entrance

For East Side Access, a new Grand Central entrance

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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SEAN January 12, 2010 - 3:15 pm

Every entrence helps in moving ridership to where they need to travel.

I can’t wait for ESA to open. Once it does, it will make my life a lot easier in terms of travel flexability.

Think twice January 12, 2010 - 3:33 pm

That entrance is about as charming as a police precinct or psyche hospital. Especially the burnt brown brickface. Classy.

Fiftyninth January 12, 2010 - 4:32 pm

I think the entrance is consistent with the nearby northern entryways to GCT (48th & Park and 47th & Madison — or is it vice versa?). In addition, I imagine that is the current facade of the office building where the entrance is being built, so the facade seems outside of MTA control.

Jerrold January 12, 2010 - 5:22 pm

Those entryways ARE at 48 St. and Park, and at 47th and Madison.
I once came up with a mnemonic device to help myself remember which is which:

MADISON has 7 letters, so think:


Cap'n Transit January 12, 2010 - 6:19 pm

Yes, here is the Google Street View of the planned location.

kvnbklyn January 12, 2010 - 4:37 pm

Does anyone know what happened to the planned station in Sunnyside? It used to be part of the ESA project, but all the current information posted on the MTA’s website excludes it. Was it dropped? Seems to me it would work as a good catalyst for more commercial development in LIC, especially if LIRR and New Haven Line MNR trains stopped there on their way to Penn Station. I believe even NJT could stop there on their way to Sunnyside yard.

Cap'n Transit January 12, 2010 - 6:06 pm

I heard that it would be developed after ESA, and after Metro-North trains were sent to Penn Station. It was part of the improvements that were scheduled to be paid for with congestion pricing money. I haven’t heard about it since then.

Cap'n Transit January 12, 2010 - 6:07 pm

Also, the name “Sunnyside” is a bit misleading, since the station would be more than ten blocks from the residential or shopping districts of Sunnyside. “Queens Plaza East” would probably be a better name.

petey January 13, 2010 - 9:35 am

so the hunterspoint ave station would remain?

wanderingi January 13, 2010 - 10:59 am

… the Hunterspoint Ave would stay.

And, Cap’n Transit, the name of Amtrack’s yard is “Sunnyside Yard.” The station would be built on their property, thus the name …

Jerrold January 12, 2010 - 7:03 pm

Another question here is:
Will the LIRR service into and out of Grand Central be seven days a week, or only on weekdays, or only in rush hours?
I never heard anything mentioned on that subject.

Marc Shepherd January 12, 2010 - 9:10 pm

The FEIS says that East Side Access would result in a net growth of 24 peak-hour trains entering Manhattan, a 45 percent increase over what is possible today.

Marc Shepherd January 12, 2010 - 9:10 pm

The FEIS does not say what the off-peak and weekend service pattern would be like, but there is no reason to think that the service would be offered only during rush hours.

Andrew January 12, 2010 - 10:02 pm

I expect that Grand Central would have priority over Brooklyn for off-peak service – that is, if only two of the NYC terminals are served off-peak, they’ll be Penn and Grand Central, not Penn and Flatbush.

Jerrold January 12, 2010 - 11:19 pm

But, just imagine the uproar from the people in Brooklyn if they were to do that!
In my opinion, there SHOULD be off-peak service to Grand Central, but I don’t think that they will take away the existing service to Brooklyn.

Alon Levy January 15, 2010 - 3:37 am

There’s no need to cut service to one terminal. Just run shortline trains from Jamaica with cross-platform transfers. Preferably those transfers could be timed so that the two trains pull up at the platform at the same time and wait there for 30-60 seconds to let people transfer.

Niccolo Machiavelli January 12, 2010 - 7:42 pm

Oddly Jerrold if the present political alignments on Long Island persist off-peak service may actually be enhanced since without Main-Line Third Track, a folded tent in this capital plan, the LIRR will be unable to significantly increase peak service despite the $11B of scarce capital spent on East-Side Access. Senator Johnson will remain on the Capital Plan Review Board as long as the Democrats retain their majority in Albany and he has said that Main-Line Third Track is an over his dead body type of thing. He is transparent and we know how popular that is.

L. Hernandez January 12, 2010 - 11:11 pm

This new entrance, set to open in September 2011, will extend the Grand Central entrance options north to 47th St.

It’s worth noting here that there currently exists access at 48th and Park Avenue, and up through the Helmsley building at Park between 45th and 46th, though not access at Lex & 47th, so this is more a branching out in an ever so slightly eastern direction than a northern extension.

Aaron January 13, 2010 - 1:47 pm

No elevator? I’m madly in love with GCT, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little on the inaccessible side at times, often not necessarliy because of actual lack of access but instead a lack of signage. Getting into GCT in a wheelchair can be difficult at points, and I’m of a mind that they could use a few more elevators for street access. I’m fairly athletic, so people who aren’t must have nothing but disdain for those huge ramps.

Side note: I still don’t understand why MTA says that the IRT shuttle isn’t accessible. I prefer it to the 7, fewer elevators that can break, particularly at Times Square, and VERY convenient when you come out of the Boston Properties elevator. The gap at T-Square is a little on the big side, but has nothing on the gap at Franklin/Fulton, which is designated as accessible – it can also be avoided entirely by boarding at the eastbound edge of the car, where the gap is no worse than the little jump at the Queens-bound IND platform at 63rd/Lex. Only problem being that, because it’s not signed as accessible, I can never FIND it at GCT because of the multitude of entrances to the IRT, so I always have to take the S from T-Square but the 7 to T-Square.

I don’t carry a rule around and I don’t memorize the ADAAG requirements, but I would think that MTA should be at least be able to say something to the effect of “may be accessible to some mobility-impaired customers, please use caution when boarding and deboarding at Times Square.”

kelly July 20, 2011 - 10:47 pm

I heard MTA Chairman Jay Walder speak recently. He said that the current ESA design does not “preclude” a Sunnyside station, but it will not be built as part of the current plan. He was very clear that MTA went to some effort to allow for a future station.

George October 10, 2011 - 12:23 am

is this thing open? you need to do more than just reprint press releases, son

New GCT entrance delayed until 2012 :: Second Ave. Sagas November 1, 2011 - 4:30 pm

[…] construction. Although at the time the project was not set to open until 2016, the MTA planned to debut a new entrance this September on 47th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. It is not yet meant to […]

jj December 4, 2011 - 12:35 pm

unfortunate delay , but great news when it opens


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