The work is part of MTA Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access project, which will bring LIRR commuters from Long Island and Eastern Queens to the east side of Manhattan in a new concourse being built under Grand Central Terminal.
"This new entrance will be a tremendous benefit to both current Metro-North customers and future LIRR customers by providing a fifth northern means of ingress and egress to the trains," said Metro-North President Howard Permut.
The 47th Street cross passage runs directly below street level from Lexington Avenue to Madison Avenue and has staircases that lead to every train platform on the upper level of Grand Central. (From the 47th Street cross passage, people also can use two north-south walkways to reach the 45th Street cross passage, which connects to all lower level platforms.) People who work north of Grand Central use the north end exits to save up to 15 minutes walking time to and from their offices.
"This entrance is an example of how construction can be staged so that customers can enjoy incremental benefits as each element of a project is completed," said MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu.
Work will also take place at the south end of the platform where Track 13 will be extended to the south due to the loss of some space at the north end of the platform for the staircases and escalator. The purpose is to maintain a 10-car-length platform.
The work, now under way, will cost $14 million and take 20 months to complete. During construction, this platform will be out of service.
When LIRR's East Side Access project is complete in December 2016, there also will be a connection between the new LIRR Concourse and the west end of the 47th Street cross passage to allow LIRR commuters the benefit of a shortcut in a weather-protected environment.
The new entrance comes up inside the lobby of 245 Park Avenue, which occupies the block between 46th and 47th streets between Park and Lexington avenues. The entrance, which will open in September 2011, will be a glass storefront on the south side of 47th Street mid-block.
Brookfield Properties made this entrance possible by donating the easement needed to establish this new entrance.
The construction is being done by Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc.