Centennial of NY Grand Central Station…And What the Future Holds

Grand Central TerminalNew York’s famous transportation icon, Grand Central Station (more properly Grand Central Terminal) celebrated the 100th anniversary of it’s opening on February 2, 2013.  This rail terminal is more than just a means of travelling from point A to B, but it is a romantic, and grandiose metaphor for the hustle and bustle of American life.  While the structure is definitely a cultural and architectural monument, it is also an engineering marvel, a fact recognized in 2012 by ASCE when it named it a National Civil Engineering Historic Landmark.

While the centennial of the GCT is being celebrated, a new project is taking shape approximately 90 feet below the existing tracks.  The East Side Access project (ESA) will provide a new connection from the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to GCT.  This project will help alleviate the strain on Penn Station, as a study performed at the outset of the project indicated that a higher percentage of Penn Station subway riders actually worked closer to Grand Central.  To New Yorkers who are familiar with the geography of the area, I’m sure the following project description from Wikipedia makes sense, to me…it makes my head spin!  The map from the MTA is a bit easier to follow.

Extending between Sunnyside, Queens, and Grand Central, the project will route the LIRR from its Main Line through new track connections in Sunnyside Yard and through the lower level of the existing 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, a new tunnel will begin at the western end of the 63rd Street Tunnel at Second Avenue, curving south under Park Avenue and entering a new LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central.


The cost of the project is estimated to be in excess of $8 Billion with a completion date of 2019.  I’ve compiled a list of some interesting articles on Grand Central Terminal and the East Side Access Project.  At the bottom of this article is a list of some previous GeoPrac posts on the East Side Access Project and another mega project from the NY MTA, the Second Avenue Subway Project.  Enjoy!

Great Reading on GCT and the East Side Access Project

  • Workers use a drill during an MTA tour of the East Side Access Project, which will link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal in New York, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. Photo: Chris Preovolos Tectonic Engineering provides QC and geotechnical support to NY East Side Access project – Source: Tectonic
    According to their website, Tectonic Engineering and Surveying Consultants is providing "special inspection and materials testing for all soils, cast-in-place concrete, asphalt, structural steel, precast concrete, shotcrete, earth anchors, blast monitoring, pile driving, grouting and underpinning for three separate contracts involving tunneling, site work and mined caverns." That’s quite a project!
  • Grand Central Terminal (Wikipedia) – Source: Wikipedia
    If you have some time, there is some fascinating information here on GCT…it’s history, architecture and other interesting facts.
  • Grand Central Terminal Grand Central Terminal is named a national historical civil engineering landmark – Source: mta.info
    ‘ASCE President Andrew W. Herrmann noted that Grand Central Terminal joins other American engineering marvels such as the Washington Monument and the Erie Canal, as well as the Brooklyn, George Washington and Golden Gate Bridges.’ This short article has some nice bullet points about the engineering of the GCT.
  • East Side Access section showing how the new terminal will go beneath Grand Central Terminal and beneath some of Manhattan's well known skyscrapers East Side Access – Source: Hatch Mott MacDonald
    Hatch Mott MacDonald provided program management and Tunnel Specialist services for the East Side Access Project. HMM also provided construction database management services and tunneling equipment review during construction.
  • 3D Model of East Side Access Project in New York Devising a Digital Dry Run for Transportation Projects – Source: Parsons Brinckerhoff Bulletin
    This PB Article is about their work in 3D and 4D transportation project visualization. The last project at the bottom of the page is the East Side Access Project. I’d love to be able to see that model in more detail!
  • Scaffolding within the tunnel of one of the east side access project Flickr: NYMTACC’s ESA Photostream
    This is the Flickr stream for the NY MTA’s East Side Access Project. Updated frequently with photos from construction.
  • Rendering of the new passenger concourse beneath GCT MTA Capital Construction – East Side Access – Source: NY MTA
    This is one of the main pages for official information on the ESA project.
  • Future east side access platform. East Side Access Project – Source: Wikipedia

Previous GeoPrac Posts on East Side Access Project and Second Avenue Subway Project

Project Team

Program Management

  • URS Corporation

General Engineering Consultant is Tri-Venture Team of:

  • Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • STV Incorporated
  • Parsons

Consultant Construction Management Services

  • Joint Venture Team
  • Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., Edwards & Kelcey
  • LiRo Group