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Project To Bring LIRR Trains To Grand Central Right On Track

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TWC News: Project To Bring LIRR Trains To Grand Central Right On Track
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In just a few months, some heavy machinery will begin drilling tunnels beneath the Upper East Side to help bring Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Station. NY1 Transit reporter Bobby Cuza filed the following report on the MTA's other big expansion project.

The 63rd Street tunnel connecting Queens to Manhattan was once known as "the tunnel to nowhere." Built in the 1970s, it sat unused until 1989, when the subway finally began running through the upper level, now home to the F line.

The lower level has remained dormant, running up against rock on the Manhattan side. The rock is now about to be hallowed thanks to a huge piece of equipment known as a tunnel boring machine.

"The machine is going to arrive by the end of this month, and it's going to take at least two or three months for them to assemble the whole machine,” said Mysore Nagaraja of the MTA Capital Construction Company. “And I would say by end of summer, we are going to start boring."

It's all part of the MTA's East Side Access project, which will bring, for the first time, Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central, where the MTA will begin building a new terminal later this year.

Thursday, MTA officials gave the media a tour of the 63rd Street tunnel, accessible from a huge pit off Northern Boulevard. Once drilling starts, this tunnel will be extended over to Park Avenue and then south all the way down to Grand Central.

MTA officials say those on Manhattan's East Side won't even notice the drilling.

"We are going to be monitoring vibration, noise, everything, on a 24-hour-a-day basis," assured Nagaraja.

At the Queens end of the tunnel, in Long Island City, crews will also begin tunneling east, beneath the Sunnyside Rail Yards to link up the project with the Long Island Rail Road's main line and create a new Long Island Rail Road station in Sunnyside.

Work on that leg of the project will begin next year. The entire project, meanwhile, is scheduled for completion in 2013.

And with the federal government funding about 40 percent of the $6.3 billion price tag, the project is, so far, right on track.

-Bobby Cuza
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