Development Chief Says MTA Should Embrace Maligned LIRR Project

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Though it’s mired in cost and schedule overruns, the East Side Access project hasn’t gotten due credit, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority development chief Janno Lieber.

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Speaking at Commercial Observer’s Transportation and Infrastructure Construction Forum yesterday, Lieber said that his agency should be boasting of the project’s value in bringing Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal—not shying away from its difficulties.

“I think one of the problems is that we haven’t talked about it enough,” Lieber said, noting that many observers don’t realize that the project’s central tunnel was built in the 1970s. “This is not some weird new expansion. This is optimizing utilization.”

The latest estimates predict East Side Access service will begin in December 2022, at a total cost of $10.2 billion. Through East Side Access, more than 160,000 customers a day will ride to Grand Central on LIRR trains through the aforementioned East River tunnel that is now unused, the MTA predicts.