East Side Access

Legislation | Documents/Reports | Links | Press Releases

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) proposes to build a new rail link to provide direct access for LIRR riders to Grand Central Terminal. The project would bring approximately 160,000 new passengers, including 5,000 residents of Western Queens, into Grand Central Station. Congresswoman Maloney has been a strong supporter of the East Side Access project, and she has worked with her colleagues to procure Congressional earmarks for the project.


© Metropolitan Transportation Authority

While Congresswoman Maloney supports the project generally, she believes that the MTA is making a serious mistake in altering its original proposal and concentrating certain mechanical operations in a 153 foot building on East 49-50th Streets (see below).

Why East Side Access is Needed

Current Modes of Transportation Overcapacity The LIRR, the bus and subway system and the highways are all at or near capacity at rush hour. Congestion leads to increased commuting times and greater difficulties getting to work, which, in turn, compromises New York City’s job base (and Long Island’s residential base). Penn Station is already at capacity. The increase in commuters is expected to push trains coming into Penn Station to 127% of capacity.

Employment Growth Manhattan has experienced a tremendous growth in new office space since World War II – nearly 213 million square feet with 62% of that new building happening in East Midtown (nearly 132 million square feet). At the same time, more people who work in Manhattan are living in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Employment in Manhattan is projected to grow 21% by 2020, with the size of the labor force living in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens expected to increase by 28% during that period. 60% of the 260,000 daily Long Island commuters work on the East Side. (LI Business News, July 21, 1997)

Excessive Commuting Time LIRR trains enter Manhattan on the East Side through the East River Tunnels at 33rd Street, but passengers cannot disembark until they reach Penn Station on the West Side. They must then double back to reach their destinations on the East Side, adding 15-30 minutes each day to their commutes.

Redundancy After 9/11, the MTA issued a report stating “It was clearly the flexibility and capacity of the subway system in Lower Manhattan that helped the MTA through this ordeal. That makes more critical than ever the two important system capacity expansion projects (East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway). (See NY Times, Dec 23, 2001 – Pushing to Speed Up East Side Rail Link by Stewart Ain). The report also says: “The tragedy of Sept 11 has taught the MTA a critical lesson that will guide its longer-term transportation strategies for decades to come. Had the MTA been directly affected at either of its two rail stations (Penn Station or Grand Central) or on the sole subway line on the East Side of Manhattan, its ability to evacuate over 500,000 commuter rail customers who live east or north of Manhattan and another 700,000 who take the subway on the East Side of Manhattan would have been severely diminished.” (See Newsday, Oct 21, 2001 – Stop and Go: A Weekly Giude to the Roads & Rails on Long Island: Report: Attacks Take $4 billion toll on MTA)

Impact on Queens

East Side Access is expected to provide new service to residents of Western Queens, as well as to commuters who are trying to reach the growing Long Island City business district. The new Sunnyside Station would be located on the west side of the Queens Boulevard bridge, near Skillman Avenue.


  • 2002, Construction begins
  • 2002, FTA gives permission to begin final design.
  • The final Environmental Impact Statement was released March 2001
  • The Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision in May 2001 allowing construction of East Side Access to begin.
  • Public review of the DEIS began on May 17, 2000 when it was published and distributed. A public hearing was held June 15, 2000. The public comment period was held open until July 12, 2000, but comments were accepted until December 1, 2000.
  • NYMTC identified a locally preferred alternative on June 25, 1998 (Res No. 94A).
  • The preferred alternative was to provide LIRR service through Sunnyside to Grand Central Terminal via the lower level of the 63rd Street tunnel.
  • Analysis of the environmental impact of East Side Access began in 1995. The Notice of Intent was published and the public scoping process was performed. Three public hearings were held in July 1995.
  • The East Side Access Project is currently excavating tunnels approximately 120 feet beneath Manhattan streets.  At the end of November 2009 all of the upper tunnel drives were completed. By 2011, all the Manhattan tunnels will be mined.

More on East Side Access

Feb 11, 2019 Press Release

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined with Queens community leaders in Long Island City to call on New York State to fund the promised, long anticipated LIRR station in Sunnyside Rail Yards. This stop, promised as  part of the East Side Access plan, would create a transportation hub that will incorporate all of the transportation systems that use the Sunnyside Rail Yards (LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak and soon, Metro North) to respond to the rapidly growing LIC community.

Jun 24, 2011 Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) applauded the announcement of Federal Transit Administration funding for the two major New York City transit projects today. $197 million in funding for the 2nd Avenue Subway and $215 million for the East Side Access project -linking the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal- will be coming to the Metropolitan Transit Authority as part of the Full Funding Grant Agreements governing both projects.

May 9, 2011 Press Release
New York, NY – U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) hailed a $294.7 million federal high-speed rail grant announced today by the U.S. Department of Transportation to make improvements to Harold Interlocking, a portion of the Sunnyside Rail Yards through which Amtrak trains must pass on their way to and from Boston.  The Harold Interlocking junction is located in Maloney’s Congressional district and the Congresswoman has been a strong supporter of this grant, for which Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Jay Walder applied in April.  A copy of a letter Maloney sent to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the grant follows.

May 5, 2011 Press Release
New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney today called on Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff to preserve the funding originally proposed for the nation’s two largest New Starts projects - the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access, calling them “vital to the New York City region's $1.26 trillion economy, the second-largest regional economy in the world.”

Feb 1, 2010 Press Release

New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan & Queens) today hailed the inclusion of $197 million for the Second Avenue Subway and $215 million for East Side Access in the Obama Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 Federal Transit Administration budget. Congresswoman Maloney has long championed the transit projects, which are both located almost entirely within New York’s 14th Congressional District that she represents.

Aug 10, 2009 Press Release

New York, NY – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) applauded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010-2014 capital plan, which will fully fund the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway and the completion of East Side Access.  Maloney has long championed the transit projects, which will be located almost entirely within her congressional district.

“Even in these challenging economic times, the MTA is maintaining its strong commitment to completing the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access --and that’s a huge win for New York straphangers,” said Rep. Maloney.

Jul 14, 2009 Press Release
 Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today hailed the inclusion of $197 million for the Second Avenue Subway and $215 million for East Side Access in the Fiscal Year 2010 House Transportation Appropriations bill. The House is expected to pass the appropriations bill by the end of the month. Maloney has long championed the transit projects, which will be located almost entirely within her congressional district.
May 7, 2009 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) applauded the release by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) of millions in stimulus funding for the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access megaprojects, which are located almost entirely within Maloney’s congressional district. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the early delivery of $78.9 million for the Second Avenue Subway and $195.4 million for East Side Access, along with funding for seven other projects around the country.

Feb 3, 2009 Press Release
New York, NY – This morning at Grand Central Terminal, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) issued a report outlining the jobs and other economic benefits created by the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access.  Both “megaprojects” are located almost entirely within Maloney’s Congressional district.  Please click here for a full copy of Maloney’s report; highlights can be found below.  Joining Maloney at the press conference were Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Council Members Jessica Lappin and Dan Garodnick, MTA Executive Director and CEO Lee Sander, Regional Plan Association President Robert Yaro, and representatives of the New York State AFL-CIO, the New York City Central Labor Council, RWDSU, the New York City District Council of Carpenters, Plumbers Local Union No.1, and the New York City General Contractors Association.