Milestone for East Side Access: Workers to Break Through Lower Level Floor To Build Housing for Escalators and Stairways to Future LIRR Concourse

Capital Construction Pres. takes pickax to floor at Grand Central Terminal

A 1,920-square-foot seating area in Grand Central Terminal’s Lower Level Dining Concourse is closed as of Monday, October 26, in order to open a structural framework that will allow for the future construction of stairways and escalators that will connect Grand Central’s Lower Level to the 10-block long, 350,000-square-foot Long Island Rail Road concourse and eight-track train terminal being built underneath Grand Central Terminal. 

The work is being done through the MTA’s East Side Access megaproject, the largest transportation construction project underway in the United States, which is connecting the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal through newly mined tunnels in Manhattan and Queens and existing tunnels under the East River.

“This is a major milestone in the construction of East Side Access,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction. “After years of toiling and making great progress below ground and mostly out of the public’s view, the emergence of construction in Grand Central’s Dining Concourse will give New Yorkers their first real, tangible sense of what is to come. Construction crews will be present in the Lower Level of Grand Central for many months to come. We will schedule our work to minimize disruption to diners, visitors and train travelers using Grand Central during its busiest times.”

The area to be closed to the public is on the west side of the lower level, across from entrances to Tracks 112-115. MTA Capital Construction will install temporary barricade walls which will incorporate noise, dust-control and fire protective elements to neutralize impacts to the customer environment. The temporary walls will be clad with information related to the East Side Access work being done there. And Metro-North will provide information regarding customer service contacts, an eatery directory and Grand Central tenant advertising.

“This is a multi-party endeavor with lots of players who will be working together to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible: Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, the contractors, and Jones Lang LaSalle, which manages Grand Central’s retail environment,” said Joseph Giulietti, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. “We will all work together to make every effort to reduce inconvenience to Metro-North customers and Grand Central’s businesses during this construction.”

All of the surrounding eateries will remain open for business throughout the construction. Three quarters of the 140 chairs and 44 tables that occupy the area to be closed will be redistributed throughout the Dining Concourse.

The construction work is being performed as part of a $430 million contract to build the future LIRR Concourse at Grand Central Terminal. The contract was awarded in February 2015 to GCT Constructors, JV, a joint venture consisting of Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone, Inc. Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, and escalators and elevators, that will comprise the future 350,000-square-foot concourse and related ventilation facilities.

The construction of the structural framework and space for the future stairways and escalators in the Dining Concourse is projected to take approximately 12-18 months. When construction of this first phase is completed, the framed out and supported openings in the floor will be capped over until the escalators and stairs are installed closer to revenue service. Until then the majority of the tables and seating will be restored. A small fraction will be permanently removed to make way for the newly built escalators and stairways.

The construction being announced today will be the first of several connections to be built between the existing Grand Central and the new LIRR Concourse. Other significant work will take place in the historic Biltmore Room in mid-to-late 2016, where escalators and an elevator will be installed to take passengers directly to and from the LIRR Concourse. Other East Side Access-related work is underway and will become visible to the public over the coming months and years as the project progresses.

The East Side Access project will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, and dramatically shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan. It is projected to reduce crowding at Penn Station and nearby subway stations and provide easier access from East Midtown to JFK International Airport.

The completion of the East Side Access project will also allow Metro-North New Haven Line trains to access to the west side of Manhattan and four stations that will be built in the Bronx.