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MTA's East Side Access Project at Grand Central reaches milestone as blasting ends
Teams of sandhogs toiling 160 feet below Grand Central Terminal have finished blasting through 500 million-year-old rock bed to build the massive caverns that will house a brand-new Long Island Rail Road terminal, MTA officials announced Tuesday.
The East Side Access Project reached a major milestone this week when the last of the subterranean caverns were carved out after six years of blasting and digging.
Now comes six more years of building platforms, adding train tracks and everything that goes along with them so that LIRR commuters will have direct access to the East Side of Manhattan for the first time.
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When the $8.24 billion project is finished in 2019, it will house eight tracks, enough to ferry some 160,000 customers through Grand Central every day.
"The caverns are now fully excavated," said Michael Horodniceanu, who is overseeing the project for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "Much work remains to be done to build the platforms and tracks and finish what is currently raw, cavelike space. But we now have a fully built shell in which all future work will take place."
Here is a rundown of some interesting numbers regarding the East Side Access Project:
857,000: The cubic yards of rock and muck that have been dug out of the East Side caverns, enough to cover all of Central Park in a foot of dirt.
1,000: The estimated number of employees who have been working around the clock five days a week, completing thousands of controlled blasts of rock bed.
1 1/2: The diameter in inches of the hundreds of holes sandhogs drilled into the granite schist. Each hole is then loaded with 200-500 pounds of an explosive known as Emulex before the Blaster-in-charge hits the trigger.
200: The weight in tons of the two boring machines used to chew through some 32,000 linear feet of bedrock stretching some 34 blocks under Manhattan's East Side.
To view a short video of sandhogs at work, go to MTA's YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/ms0nDGDrNc8.