Maloney Cheers Finish of Tunnel-Boring for East Side Access, Nation’s Largest Mass Transit Project

Jul 27, 2012
Press Release

New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) celebrated the news this week that tunnel-boring had been completed on the East Side Access project, which will connect Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Grand Central Terminal, and is the largest mass transit initiative under construction anywhere in the United States.  

On Monday, “Molina,” a 200-ton tunnel boring machine used by the  Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), marked the end of tunnel-boring on the East Side Access (ESA) project when it finished its run underground in Long Island City, Queens, in New York’s 14th Congressional District represented by Congresswoman Maloney.  “Molina”, the fourth tunnel-boring machine used on ESA, will now be retired from active service on MTA projects.

“We’re literally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on completing East Side Access, the largest mass transit project under construction anywhere in the country. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate this important milestone. I congratulate all the sandhogs, MTA employees – and Molina! – for completing this difficult and grueling task,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

“I’m proud to have played a leading role in the House in securing federal funds for this critical project, which is generating more than 22,000 good-paying jobs in New York, nearly $1.2 billion in wages, and $4 billion in total economic activity. Once completed, East Side Access will continue to foster critical economic development in the metropolitan region, and is a great example of how the private sector and government can work together to help grow jobs,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

The LIRR is the largest suburban commuter railroad in the country, transporting 272,000
passengers on more than 700 trains every 24 hours. The vast majority of those passengers exit at Penn Station, with more than 50% then using another mode of transit to jobs on Manhattan’s East Side. Additionally, the LIRR is currently operating at or near capacity, with overcrowding adding time and inconvenience to daily commutes. On December 16, 2006, the MTA and the Federal Transit Administration signed a full funding grant agreement, pursuant to which the federal government agreed to provide $2.6 billion of the project’s cost, currently estimated at $7.3 billion.

ESA will carry LIRR passengers directly to Grand Central Terminal in the core of Manhattan’s Central Business District. It will also create a new LIRR stop in Sunnyside, Queens, helping commuters reach the business district in Long Island City, the fourth largest business district in New York City and the largest in the Borough of Queens.

Once finished, ESA will add nearly 50 percent more rail capacity into Manhattan from
Long Island and Queens, saving East Side-bound commuters 30 to 40 minutes daily. ESA is anticipated to serve about 160,000 customers a day. The creation of a direct, “one-seat” LIRR service from the Long Island/Queens corridor into Grand Central Terminal will have a number of significant regional transportation benefits, relieve congestion at Penn Station; reduce crowding on the subway lines that use Penn Station and the No. 7 line; allow Metro-North service to Penn Station, thereby providing for a more balanced transportation system and provide convenient access between the east side of Manhattan and JFK International Airport (via the AirTrain at Jamaica).

The ESA project is located almost entirely in New York’s 14th Congressional District represented by Congresswoman Maloney.

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