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East Side Access

Currently, the majority of the 270,000 commuters who use the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) arrive at Penn Station on the West Side of Manhattan, and approximately half of them backtrack on foot or via subway to the East Side. The East Side Access project will bring eight tracks of LIRR service to a newly constructed station space at Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan. The project will also allow the LIRR to add service from key locations on Long Island and free up track space at Penn Station. WSP USA, formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, is the managing partner of the joint venture designing the project as well as providing design services during construction. 


LIRR trains will enter Manhattan from Queens via the existing 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River, requiring four tunnels to be bored through soft ground using a pressurized-face tunnel boring machine (TBM). This portion of the work also requires reconfiguration of Harold Interlocking, the busiest railroad interchange in the U.S. 

In Manhattan, the teams face typical hard-rock conditions for the island where two TBMs tunneled through 32,000 feet (9,700 meters). Construction of two caverns that will form the additional station space is being carried out using drill-and-blast excavation supplemented with road header excavation.