Home East Side Access Project Video: East Side Access blasting wraps under GCT

Video: East Side Access blasting wraps under GCT

by Benjamin Kabak

After a month containing nearly 2400 controlled explosions, blasting has wrapped underneath Grand Central as part of the East Side Access work, the MTA announced today. According to the agency, crews blasted out 857,000 cubic yards of muck from the future LIRR terminal. It’s enough debris to cover the entirety of Central Park one foot deep.

“This is a very significant milestone for the East Side Access project,” Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction, said. “The caverns are essentially now fully excavated. Much work remains to be done to build the platforms and tracks, and finish what is currently raw, cave-like space. But we now have a fully built shell in which all future work will take place.”

As part of the milestone announcement, the MTA released the video I’ve embedded above showing blasting and progress at the site. The East Side Access project is expected to wrap up eventually this decade.

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Woody April 9, 2013 - 2:21 pm

It was really nice to see the construction workers commuting to the site by train, and not by car.


Jerrold April 9, 2013 - 2:28 pm

You said “this decade”, and 2019 has been previously stated as the date for the beginning of revenue service.

With the blasting totally finished, is it reasonable to expect the remaining work to have to take SIX more years?

Peter April 9, 2013 - 3:44 pm

I had the same thought. I realize outfitting the station is a big undertaking, and that there is still a lot of work going on in Sunnyside, but six years seems like an awful long time to completion now that blasting and tunneling is complete.

Ryan April 9, 2013 - 7:23 pm

They also have to do a station at Sunnyside at the same time, hence the work there.

Patrick April 10, 2013 - 12:18 am

Well, at this point only the caverns are carved out. There still is an awful lot to do at the station site alone—they have to encase the caverns in concrete, divide the caverns into three levels, two for trains and one mezzanine in between, make the actual station, as well as all of the staircases, escalators, and levators that will ferry people to/from the station dep underground, ventilation, lighting, pouring the platforms, etc.

Then there’s loads of work to be done with the tunnels themselves. Right now only some dummy track is laid from the staton cavern out through to the Q-tip in Queens. Eventually, once all the work trains are done traipsing in and out they will pull up all the tracks that are currently there, then lay new tracks that are of a much higher quality to support higher-speed passeng trains going over them. Then they ave to install a signaling system, install PTC and all those things that go with it, configure the two new interlockings with all their associated switches and such.

Then they also have to finish boring the tunnels in Queens. Right now two of the Queens tunnels (the two from the 63rd street tunnel to the Q-tip) are completed, and the two soft-ground TBM’s are hard at work boring the other four tunnels (the three that go from the Q-tip to the LIRR mainline at HAROLD and the yard lead tunnel that wraps around and heads to Sunnyside Yard.

Then HAROLD interlocking has to be reconfigured to connect the three new tunnels easily with the existing LIRR tracks and the two HAROLD bypasses have to be constructed for the Amtrak trains.

The Sunyside station isn’t going to be too much of a problem. That’s just pouring a slab of concrete and building a staircase. Pretty simple.

Then everything has to be tested for a long, long, long, long time until they are sure that everything is working properly.

Then following a massive overhaul of the schedules and a huge public information campaign, there’s a big press conference and finally the station is open for commuters to use.

Then within 24 hours of the opening we’ll have our first switch failure. I can see the OTP numbers plumiting now!

D.R. Graham April 10, 2013 - 1:32 am

Bravo!!! I was just about to type half of that and see that the work has been done!!!! You are 100% on point.

petey April 9, 2013 - 2:30 pm

can’t wait for this.

Somebody April 9, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Where specifically has the 857,000 cubic feet of rock gone? Is it sold?

Ryan April 9, 2013 - 3:29 pm

Wow! Can’t wait for this 29-years-overdue, $6.6-billion-over-budget construction project to finish.

Eric F April 9, 2013 - 4:17 pm

The blasts were often audible in midtown, many feet above where they were occuring.

This project is long overdue, but it’s nice to hear that they are moving on from one the construction phases.

SEAN April 9, 2013 - 4:38 pm

I wonder if Forest Hills, Kew Gardens & other stations in Queens would benefit once this station opens. As it is, FH & KG can Platform only 4 cars currently & there would need to be construction to have them extended.

This is good news as a criticle milestone was reached & we are passed the point of no return.

Jerrold April 9, 2013 - 9:28 pm

“……can platform only four cars……”

Remember that discussion this past weekend?
I guess we are all learning to speak the jargon of railroading.

paulb April 10, 2013 - 9:02 am

A disappointment. I thought it was further along.


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