Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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NY1 Exclusive: Work Continues Underground on East Side Access Project

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You can now see a sign of progress on the MTA's biggest construction project above ground, but what you can't see is what's going on more than 100 feet below. NY1's Jose Martinez got an exclusive tour of the East Side Access project and filed the following report.

There's the colorful sliver of East Side Access you can see. Then, there's what's happening 15 stories below Park and Madison avenues.

Eventually, the mega-project will connect 162,000 Long Island Rail Road riders to the East Side of Manhattan.

NY1 got an exclusive look at a job that's hardly been on the express track. It's years late and billions over budget, with costs rising.

"It has been experiencing, to a certain degree, delays, as you all know. This is not a secret," said Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction.

Blasting in the caverns wrapped up last year, as the project slowly takes shape.

There are a total of 47 escalators. A former rail yard below Madison Avenue will become a shopping concourse. There are also eight tunnels carved out of miles of bedrock.

"We finished the tunneling both in Queens and in Manhattan. We're now finishing, we're putting the finishes in the tunnels themselves by completing them," Horodniceanu said.

Construction started in 2007, though the project has been on the drawing board since the 1970s. The visible portion, opened Tuesday, is a tiny pocket park which disguises part of the tunnels' ventilation system. The sounds of a waterfall help muffle the noise.

"It's always going to have the hum, and, you know, that is the aspect of the fan plant that you can't avoid," said state Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan. "At the same time, you know, it's got greenery, it's got space to sit."

The latest date targeted for the opening of East Side Access isn't even for another eight years from this December, at which point, MTA officials hope they'll be able to have another ribbon-cutting for something far more spectacular than a colored waterfall.

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