Sandhogs working on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's East Side Access megaproject broke through the final piece of reinforced concrete separating newly built tunnels in Queens from newly built tunnels in Manhattan.
In so doing, they created a continuous tunnel running more than 3.5 miles from a cavern 12 stories underneath Grand Central Terminal to four concrete-lined, 22-foot diameter tunnels just feet below the Sunnyside Yard in Queens that will soon be connected to the Long Island Rail Road mainline.
“For the first time since the East Side Access project began, there is now a continuous path through newly built tunnel from Queens to the East Side of Manhattan,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota. “This is the path Long Island Rail Road trains will follow when this project is completed.”
The connection between the Manhattan and Queens tunnels took place directly underneath Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens. The contract to excavate this 120-foot segment of tunnel was handled separately from the other tunneling contracts because it presented a host of unique challenges.
Not only does this segment of tunnel need to bear the weight of Northern Boulevard, a busy six-lane arterial truck route leading to the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge, it also needs to support the four-track IND subway trunk line underneath the roadway that carries the E, M and R subway trains, as well as that of the elevated BMT Astoria Line, which carries the N and Q subway trains.
The work to build the tunnel underneath Northern Boulevard is being performed by a joint venture of Schiavone Construction and Kiewit Corp. under a $96.8 million contract. The MTA awarded the contract in February 2010. It is to be completed next April. The overall East Side Access project is scheduled to be completed in August 2019.