• The East Side Access Project Discussion (ESA)

  • Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.
Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

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  by Pensyfan19
 
photobug56 wrote: Tue Jun 29, 2021 9:39 pm There are some who believe that MTA looked for and found the most expensive possible solution to connecting the East River tunnel (LIRR level) to GCT. There were alternative proposals that supposedly would have been less extreme. But I'm not qualified to judge them. I can say that tunneling in Manhattan is difficult at best because there is so much already underground.
What about going under the 7 Train from Hunterspoint? Much shorter route than going all the way up to 63rd street and then going down to Grand Central without connecting with Metro North?
  by photobug56
 
The tunnel under the East River was built decades ago - at 63rd St. 2 levels, one for subway, one for LIRR. Sadly, the LIRR level was not built tall enough, or from another view, it is what it is, but in the 90's LIRR chose to spec out double decker cars a few inches too tall for that tunnel. Now considering how expensive it is to tunnel under a river, sooner or later that tunnel level was going to get used.

I'm sure that when the 2 level tunnel was built, it was seen as the best choice dollar wise.
  by BuddR32
 
photobug56 wrote: Wed Jun 30, 2021 1:28 am The tunnel under the East River was built decades ago - at 63rd St. 2 levels, one for subway, one for LIRR. Sadly, the LIRR level was not built tall enough, or from another view, it is what it is, but in the 90's LIRR chose to spec out double decker cars a few inches too tall for that tunnel. Now considering how expensive it is to tunnel under a river, sooner or later that tunnel level was going to get used.

I'm sure that when the 2 level tunnel was built, it was seen as the best choice dollar wise.
I'm not sure 'chose to spec out' cars that are too tall is really fair to say. Is there a dual level passenger car that would fit? anywhere? I'd find it hard to imagine making the C3s shorter (in height) without banning any passengers over six feet tall.
  by photobug56
 
At the time the impression I got from LIRR officials was that the height issue was solvable - they just chose not to. Yes, a few people might have had to duck a bit in some spots.
  by jlr3266
 
To be fair, the C3's barely fit into the tunnels to NYP. While the height seems only a few inches more than an M7/M9, the wide, flat roof is a problem in the curves.

About the deep caverns in Manhattan, the option for a flat eight would have required extensive underpinning of GCT, the Park Ave Tunnel, and several buildings along Park Ave. Evacuating from the farthest of 8 single level tracks would take longer than it will take from the lowest in the current configuration.
  by photobug56
 
At the time, the only tunnel already built was that level of the 2 level under East River. No curves. And it's LIRR officials, during a tour of the Queens end of that tunnel, who told me that the cars they were specifying, the C3's, would be a few inches too tall. If they had gone a little less tall, it could have worked, because curves could have been designed to fit the cars. Now that ESA should open sometime in the foreseeable future (who knows, maybe 2022), that decision means that those of us in diesel country cannot have a one seat ride to GCT. But that fits into the general attitude over time at LIRR that diesel country should be a lousy area to commute from, not worthy of electrification or double tracking, very low speeds and long rides and lousy schedules.
  by lpetrich
 
Checking on East Side Access Publications | MTA I find a lack of updates since about 2019.

MTA Capital Program Oversight Committee Meeting - May 2021 (PDF)
ESA report is on PDF page 8

For example, about the Mid-Day Storage Yard, "Infrastructure in the yard is 99% complete and work is now progressing on signal FRA pre‐testing and traction power testing. Test trains will begin running through the yard in late August to verify signal and traction power. "

Some of the work has some difficulties, like with the concourse, but there don't seem to be any major delays, and "substantial completion" is still expected by December 2022.

An Independent Engineering Consultant Project Review is on page 18.
  by photobug56
 
Late August this year or next? I am impressed that you found the update; MTA doesn't seem to want the public to easily find it. I'm quite skeptical that testing will happen in a timely manner or that things will work when they are tested, but hope I'm wrong. I do like "substantial completion'" - I wonder if that means in real life that they can run a decent number of trains and people, that the escalators will work, etc.
  by ExCon90
 
The September Trains has a headline across the top of the front cover:

GRAND CENTRAL'S NEW $11 BILLION LINE

Now there's an attention-getter.
  by photobug56
 
One of the biggest money pits in US rail history! And I find it hard to believe it won't add another billion or two, and take a couple years past official planned completion date before it's safe to operate. I heard too many horror stories about the project.

In the meantime, LIRR SHOULD be meeting with the public to get their views on how to operate it - which trains, how to do transfers, diesel country connections and the like. Plus explain to us about the firm that built the escalators (I read they did a not so great job on the 2nd Ave Stubway), what happens during a blackout (emergency power for escalators, elevators and lights???) and the like.
  by Frank
 
I wouldn't believe the critics that much. They often utter the same things about ESA. Could the MTA handle the project better? Yes. But still this project will be very beneficial. One of the reasons for the size of the project that if Penn Station is closed for some reason, the LIRR would still have an alternate route into Manhattan. :)
  by Head-end View
 
Re: emergency power in GCT, I'm sure there will be emergency lighting in case of a power failure. Nevertheless when I travel by train to the city I always carry a small flashlight (2 AA batt's) with me in case of an emergency. Years ago when I worked in the city, a young woman I worked with always carried a medium size flashlight (2 C-Batts) in her hand bag while riding the subways. Smart girl.
  by photobug56
 
Frank wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 9:21 am I wouldn't believe the critics that much. They often utter the same things about ESA. Could the MTA handle the project better? Yes. But still this project will be very beneficial. One of the reasons for the size of the project that if Penn Station is closed for some reason, the LIRR would still have an alternate route into Manhattan. :)
ESA is important. But a while back I had a conversation with a project contractor who had all sorts of 'news' on ESA project absurdity.
1. Safety inspectors realized that they could extend their jobs by stopping work for alleged safety reasons, which apparently they frequently did.
2. When problems were discovered and change orders needed, work would generally keep on going as is for several months - then when the change order comes through, several months of work would be undone, then redone as per the change order. Redoing work was quite common.
3. Piles of problems with construction materials and other equipment - and they could take a long time to resolve.

Part of the problem was that there was essentially no one in charge, no one with overall day to day responsibility. ESA is the shining example of why Design Build project management is so badly needed.
  by photobug56
 
Head-end View wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 3:05 pm Re: emergency power in GCT, I'm sure there will be emergency lighting in case of a power failure. Nevertheless when I travel by train to the city I always carry a small flashlight (2 AA batt's) with me in case of an emergency. Years ago when I worked in the city, a young woman I worked with always carried a medium size flashlight (2 C-Batts) in her hand bag while riding the subways. Smart girl.
I almost always have a mini mag light or pen light in a pocket and / or knapsack.

ESA is different, though, than usual transit projects, in that it is a lot deeper in the ground. Emergency lights are assumed (not so much their reliability) but you also need emergency power for escalators and elevators.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I believe when the East River tunnel was built, the plans for the LIRR portion were for a terminal in that specific area of Manhattan, i.e. 59th to 63rd St. Not sure how close to the River it was supposed to be, or how deep. Eventually that plan was shelved, probably due to neighborhood opposition and land acquisition costs.

After the new terminal on the East Side was shelved, the plan was for the LIRR to run directly into GCT. However, MNRR did not want to share its terminal space or tracks due to their capacity issues. Rightfully so.

The compromise was for the LIRR terminal to be built where the MNRR Madison Avenue yard was. This is the reason the platforms/tracks at GCT are so low; they had to excavate below that point. As noted upthread by others, this meant following a different path to avoid the need for expensive modifications to the Park Ave tunnel/GCT structure.
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