Image source: The Real Deal
NY1 reported that the tunnel that will connect Queens and Manhattan as part of the East Side Access Project has been completed. Sunnyside is now fully linked through this tunnel to a cavern under Grand Central Station; the tunnel will be the future path for LIRR trains.
As we mentioned before, a new Sunnyside LIRR station is in the plans, too, which will add more transportation/transit convenience for those heading into Manhattan from points east, especially those riding trains on the Main and Port Washington lines of the LIRR. It will be situated near subway stations in the Queens Plaza vicinity, allowing for transfers to the E/M/R and 7 trains.
Image source: MTA – tunnel boring machine arriving
This tunnel is currently the largest infrastructure project in US. If you’d like to see photos of the progress of the East Side Access project, head over to the MTA Capital Construction Flickr page, where they post photos week by week. There are some pretty cool shots there, and will likely delight those who are really into following the construction process.
The MTA posted a video dated September 21, and talked a little about this achievement. A “roadheader” excavating machine tunneled underneath Northern Blvd, and broke through to the other side. According to the MTA, this is the first breakthrough in connecting the tunnels in Queens and Manhattan. And the construction crew can walk the tunnel now.
In creating this tunnel, the MTA ran into some challenges. First, the tunnels lies 10 ft below the E/M/R (IND) line, as well as underneath Northern Boulevard, and additionally under the N/Q elevated subway. In order to make this tunnel a reality, they first had to re-support the elevated structure. To do that, they physically lifted the line off its foundation and placed it on temporary struts, all without disrupting subway service (did you notice anything out of the ordinary?). Then they froze ground and proceeded to dig and create the new tunnel.
So between these necessary steps, there hasn’t been such a feat attempted in this region before.
The MTA expects the LIRR to start running through these tunnels in August 2019.
MTA Completes Tunnel For East Side Access Project [NY1]
Tunnel connecting LIRR and Grand Central complete [The Real Deal]
MTA videos [youtube]
MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Connection to Grand Central Terminal [MTA.info]