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Long IslandTransportation

Last big contract for East Side Access; work likely 'in the coming months'

A Long Island Rail Road train passes under

A Long Island Rail Road train passes under a new signal bridge and catenary truss at Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yard in Queens in 2018. Starting Monday, construction at Penn Station could disrupt the commutes of thousands of LIRR riders. Credit: Charles Eckert

The MTA has awarded the final major construction contract needed to begin work on the $11.1 billion East Side Access megaproject linking the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal by 2022.

Skanska USA Civil Northeast will — for  $60.2 million —  relocate and excavate Harold Interlocking, the Queens rail junction considered the busiest in the nation to create space for an 800-foot structure that will connect LIRR trains with tunnels to the new concourse under Grand Central.

“Awarding the last heavy civil contract shows our progress toward completion of this huge — and hugely important — project," said Janno Lieber, MTA’s chief development officer. "The East Side Access will pay off in many ways for Long Island and the region — including more trains,  direct service to East Midtown, and a second passenger rail route between Manhattan and Long Island; the kind of backup needed in the event of superstorm Sandy-type extreme weather events and other emergencies."

Skanska, based in Manhattan with offices in Valley Stream, was the lowest of five bidders, the MTA said.  With the award, planning and surveying can start, and work will begin "in the coming months," according to the MTA. It is expected to take 27 months.

The new contract, which has two options that could bring the cost up to $62.5 million, requires Skanska to remove a machine, used during an earlier contract, to excavate tunnels and to install overhead wire structures that power Amtrak trains, new tracks and switches, the MTA said. 

The contractor must also design and provide temporary support for the 39th Street Bridge while excavation and construction are underway, the agency said.

Proponents of East Side Access — the MTA’s largest capital project — say the project will shave up to 40 minutes in commuting time and provide much-needed redundancy when there are problems with service into or out of Penn Station. The project is expected to serve about 162,000 daily customers.

"The award of this final contract means that we have come even closer to bringing this project in on time and initiating LIRR train service to Grand Central by December 2022," said Arthur R. "Rob" Troup, East Side Access’s senior program executive.  

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