MTA East Side Access

Coordinating an Extremely Complex Transportation Project


New York, NY


MTA - Capital Construction

Project Cost

$11.1 billion


The MTA’s $11.1 billion East Side Access project is one of the largest and most complex transportation projects ever undertaken in New York City. LiRo was tasked with constructability reviews, construction management services, construction inspection, operations coordination, force account coordination, design review services, change order management, cost estimating and scheduling, accounting services, and BIM services.

About the Project

The project included seven miles of tunneling in Manhattan and Queens, emerging into one of the busiest rail interlockings and multi-track main lines in the country. The new excavation connected the existing 63rd Street tunnel under the East River in a one-mile dig and blasting effort that removed nearly 400,000 cy of rock. The project also included construction of five ventilation buildings and a new transportation terminal 135 ft below Grand Central Terminal.

Project Challenges & Solutions

Extensive improvements were done in Queens that were integral to the functionality of the project. Included in this effort were: a new passenger station at Sunnyside, Queens, train storage facilities, 50,000 ft of track, a reconfigured Harold Interlocking, and systems components including signals, communications, power, and security. This work required extraordinary coordination efforts from our field personnel.

The rail operations of both LIRR and Amtrak make Harold Interlocking the busiest rail interchange in the United States, which presented unique challenges when undertaking construction activities amidst constant train activity. In this multi-stakeholder environment, LiRo developed positive relationships while coordinating each construction activity with rail operations personnel. This coordination extended to the Amtrak and LIRR Force Account construction activities that occurred in support of the project. LiRo monitored each railroad’s progress for this critical work and coordinated the interfaces with the contractor to ensure that additional track outages and interferences were not required for the same areas. This work was done in accordance with railroad and contractor labor agreements as well as the operating rules and procedures for both Amtrak and LIRR.


There is now an increased passenger capacity for rail commuters, reduced travel time to the east side of Manhattan, and increased regional rail flexibility, allowing riders seamless access to both the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from the eastern suburbs of New York City and Metro-North Railroad (MNR) passenger stations to the north of Manhattan.

News & Awards

  • 2017 AEC Excellence Awards, Infrastructure Category, 2nd Place
  • 2024 ACEC Engineering Excellence Diamond Award, Special Projects Category


Resident/ Construction Engineering & Inspection
Applied Technologies