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Track work will knock out Penn Station tunnels, delay mega-project

A construction worker walks along a cavern of

A construction worker walks along a cavern of the East Side Access under Grand Central Terminal in this undated image. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Weekend riders on the Long Island Rail Road better keep their fingers crossed.

Two of the four tunnels going in and out of Penn Station will be out of service for most weekends and some weeknights for the next four years so Amtrak can replace its dilapidated tracks, the MTA announced Monday. While officials said the maintenance shouldn’t impact riders, it could be disastrous if something happens to one the tracks still in service.

“If bad things don’t happen in the tunnel, then there will be no impact,” Bill Henderson of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said. “The problem comes if something bad happens. If you have a signal failure, if you have a derailment, if you have something happen to one of the two tracks, that’s a real issue.”

The work will be done between 10 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday. Track damage caused two train derailments earlier this year that led to massive delays.

To make matters worse for LIRR passengers, the MTA also admitted yesterday its East Side Access project to bring railroad service to Grand Central Terminal won’t be ready by September 2016 as planned. MTA officials said they have not yet figured out when it will eventually be completed.

As amNewYork reported last month, the mega-project has been plagued by delays. The Federal Transit Administration estimated it was $800 million over its $7.3 billion budget, and had put its opening date at April 2018. The MTA now doesn’t even know if it will finish by then.

“Our goal is to actually meet that date or beat it, whatever we can,” said MTA capital construction president Michael Horodniceanu, who is overseeing the project. He added that he hopes to have a new projected opening date by years’ end.


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