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New York awards last major East Side Access contract 03 Feb 2016

TunnelTalk reporting

The final major contract for the much-delayed and over budget East Side Access project is awarded to Tutor Perini for a contract sum of US$663 million.

Construction in the Manhattan caverns
Construction in the Manhattan caverns

Scope of work, which is scheduled to take 42 months, includes building and finishing four platforms and eight tracks for the new Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal situated in two 350m x 20m x 17m caverns that have been excavated some 30m below Grand Central Terminal.

Under a separate US$59 million contract awarded last month (December 2015) Tutor Perini will also construct a tunnel approach in Sunnyside, Queens.

“These are a significant milestones for East Side Access and will turn the raw underground caverns into the modern station that LIRR customers will use when they head directly to and from the East Side of Manhattan,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “The Sunnyside contract will make it possible for trains to reach Grand Central Terminal.”

The Manhattan contract will transform the two enormous 350m-long caverns carved out of solid rock into a terminal station, with more than 12 miles of trackwork from Queens to Manhattan, including eight tracks and four platforms in the station; elevators, escalators and staircases to carry customers to and from the underground station; and all architectural finishes throughout the caverns.

“With the award of these contracts, the eventual completion of East Side Access is starting to come into view,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, President of MTA Capital Construction, which is building the project. “This is the next chapter in the long history of Grand Central Terminal and the growth and development of New York City.”

Caverns under GCT are 350m long
Caverns under GCT are 350m long

A total of 34 firms requested the RFP documents for the Manhattan cavern contract, with seven submitting separate technical and cost proposals. The selection committee unanimously selected low cost proposer Tutor Perini from among three firms that submitted best and final offers.

The contract award was approved on Monday by the Long Island and Finance Committees of the MTA Board, and by the full MTA Board on Tuesday (February 2).

The 19-month contract for upgrading railroad infrastructure in Sunnyside, Queens, is valued at up to $79 million and includes excavation and construction of an approach structure that will allow the LIRR’s existing tracks to connect to one of the four rail tunnels that have been built below Sunnyside Yard. This will complete the physical connection that will run from the tunnels under Grand Central all the way to daylight in Sunnyside, Queens. Approaches to the other tunnels will be built separately through other contracts.

The contract is structured to take 19 months and is valued at $53.3 million. If the MTA deems that the work is going well, the contract allows the authority to exercise options valued at approximately $26.5 million that would expand the scope of work to be undertaken and extend the duration of the contract to a total of 30 months. Construction activities for this contract are planned to be under way in late February.

In November last year (2015) the East Side Access project hit a major milestone when the contract to fit out the future LIRR concourse broke through to the existing Lower Level Dining Concourse in Grand Central Terminal, where escalators and a stairway will be installed to connect to the new concourse that until now had been hidden from view.

East Side Access alignment
East Side Access alignment

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 via the AirTrain at LIRR’s Jamaica station.

The completion of the East Side Access project will also free up LIRR tracks in Penn Station, allowing trains from the MTA Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line access to Penn Station through Queens. The Penn Station Access project will construct four new stations in the East Bronx, significantly cutting travel times to and from Manhattan.

The latest completion date given by MTA for the much-delayed project is December 2022, at an increased project cost of US$10.178 billion, some US$2 billion more than initially projected.

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