After two-and-a-half decades, the MTA’s East Side Access Project to connect the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and Grand Central Terminals will finally come to fruition. The 700,000-square-foot station and crosstown connection will debut as Grand Central Madison.
When complete, Grand Central Madison will introduce eight new train tracks. This expansion will facilitate an increase in the number of rush hour trains in and out of Manhattan and shave approximately 40 minutes off the commute from the Long Island Railroad to Midtown East.
At a press conference hosted near the entrance of Grand Central Madison, Governor Kathy Hochul committed to completing the project by the end of this year.
“When the LIRR was built, there were 37,000 people living on Long Island – that’s one of the smaller towns today,” said Hochul. “Today, the number is 2.8 million. So, the connection of all 11 lines to Grand Central was desperately needed. When it’s done, it’s going to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The MTA estimates the frequency of morning rush hour trains to increase from 113 to 158. During evening rush hour, outbound trains will jump from 98 to 115.
The agency is also working on new train schedules which will be issued in the coming weeks. This includes trains running every 30 minutes to Huntington and Ronkonkoma, and every 15 minutes to Mineola and Hicksville. Service to and from Brooklyn will increase by about 28 percent.
“Let’s declare this as the year we finally accomplished this extraordinary transformation, what will now be the Grand Central Madison concourse,” said Governor Hochul. “It’s not just going to be a place you’re going to walk through. You’re going to have incredible retail experiences, and food and a bar, so you can have that cocktail as you’re ready to go.”
Since construction broke ground in the 1990’s, total project costs have ballooned to an estimated $11.1 billion. Due to a confluence of operational hurdles, the need for extensive tunnel repairs following Hurricane Sandy, and gaps in financing, the anticipated completion date puts the access project nearly 13 years behind schedule.
For the MTA, which could see a massive uptick in post-pandemic ridership, the new station is arriving just in time.