Price of East Side Access could increase to $11B

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Long Island Rail Road trains had been scheduled to arrive in Grand Central Terminal in 2019 at a cost of $8.l3 billion, but transit officials now say it is going to take more time and money to finish the gargantuan East Side Access project.

“The issue of budget and schedule has been continually eluding us,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Tom Prendergast told an MTA committee Monday.

The MTA originally said it would be completed in 2009 and cost $4.3 billion.

When will the nation’s biggest infrastructure construction project be finished and how much will it cost?

After four extensions of the completion date and pricetag revisions for the East Side Access, the MTA Capital Construction Co. reported to the MTA committee that the project should be finished in 2020 or 2021 and cost between $9.3 billion and $9.7 billion.

The Federal Transportation Administration chimed in, estimating the project might not be completed until late 2023 at a cost of $10.8 billion.

The MTA requested the services of Rick Thorpe, a Los Angeles consultant, who said the MTA needs to establish what he called an “executive steering committee” as well as strengthen the management group overseeing the project.

The East Side Access extends from the yards in Sunnyside to Grand Central Terminal and required excavating seven tunnels.

The project will include a new Long Island Rail Road station in Sunnyside at Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue.

Planners predict that the East Side Access will save some 160,000 riders from Queens and beyond at least 40 minutes on their commutes by arriving in Grand Central rather than Penn Station and taking alternate transportation or walking to destinations on Manhattan’s East Side.

LIRR trains will arrive at a new station 100 feet below Grand Central Terminal and reach street level by elevators.

Meanwhile, the opening of the No. 7 train extension project on Manhattan’s far west side will also be delayed, according to the MTA Capital Construction Co.

Although the No. 7 project was to have opened in June, it will likely be held up by “possibly as long as three months due to problems workers encountered in connection with the installation of an elevator,” an MTA Capital Construction spokesman said.

The $2.4 billion extension, paid for by the city, brings the line from Times Square to 34th Street and 11th Avenue.

An MTA spokesman said the No. 7 line extension “will still open in the summer.”

In one of his last days in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg rode a No. 7 train to the new 11th Avenue subway stop accompanied by a few officials.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 10:01 am, February 2, 2014
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