MTA Pushes East Side Access Opening to January


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will not start the new year conducting Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central as planned.

The goal of opening the East Side Access terminal deep below the historic station has officially been postponed from the end of 2022 to start service sometime in January the agency announced this week.

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During its December board meeting, MTA officials said that the on-time delivery of Grand Central Madison — as the new terminal decades in the works was recently renamed — was predicated on the timely completion of system testing.

“One particular zone in the 700,000 square-foot terminal requires additional work that will take more than a few days,” MTA construction and development president Jamie Torres-Springer said in a statement late Thursday. “Given the logistics of concluding testing and launching service, we have advised MTA Chair Janno Lieber that the terminal will not open this week.”

Torres-Springer did not set a concrete deadline for when Long Islanders and Queens residents would be able to take the LIRR to Grand Central — as an alternative to the universally reviled Pennsylvania Station — only saying it would be “as soon as possible in January.”

The December 2022 opening date has been promised on the $11 billion project for at least five years, but in November it came into question whether or not the Federal Railroad Administration would approve service as early as February, Newsday reported at the time.

Whether or not office landlords will sweat the setback is unclear. 

Development around Grand Central — somewhat attributable to the East Side Access project as well as a rezoning several years ago partly meant to provide additional relevance to this and the delivery of the Second Avenue Subway — has boomed in recent years.

Some of the major projects that have launched due to the potential of the new terminal included JPMorgan Chase’s 2.5 million-square-foot 270 Park Avenue, RXR’s 2.1 million-square-foot 175 Park Avenue and SL Green (SLG) Realty’s 1.75 million-square-foot One Vanderbilt.

Scott Rechler, chairman and CEO of RXR, may not be sweating the tardiness seeing as 175 Park is not expected to open until 2029, but he previously told Commercial Observer that the development will certainly benefit from the infrastructure improvements around Grand Central.

Mark Hallum can be reached at