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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) yesterday announced the substantial completion of two contracts on its East Side Access project to bring MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) service into Grand Central Terminal. Workers have completed construction of a $57.7 million subterranean ventilation facility below East 55th Street in Manhattan for tunnels that will carry LIRR trains to the terminal, MTA officials said in a press release. Construction for the project began in November 2012.A Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone Inc. joint venture built the facility. Workers executed 144 controlled blasts and mechanical excavation to remove 10,000 cubic yard of rock and soil, MTA officials said.The facility extends 150 feet below street level, but is hidden from view on the street.At the same time, Tutor Perini Corp.'s crews completed $56.2 million in infrastructure improvements to Harold Interlocking in Sunnyside, Queens, where tracks connecting to Grand Central will meet with LIRR.The busiest passenger railroad switching complex in the country, the interlocking governs the movement of four railroads between Penn Station, Long Island, New England and Sunnyside Yard, where Amtrak and New Jersey Transit store trains. Adding a connection to Grand Central, while creating dedicated new tracks above and below it to reduce congestion-related delays, requires the installation of nearly 100 new switches and miles of new track, MTA officials said.Under the Tutor Perini contract, workers built retaining walls, 2,700 feet of new storm sewer, 3,600 feet of duct banks that house 12,000-volt AC traction power, an access road, and five utility conduits known as microtunnels. Additionally, they installed three electrical substations for snow melters; relocated and adjusted utility conduits; installed an electric device governing information distribution that is composed of microprocessors known as a remote terminal unit.Three gantries also were purchased to bear overhead train signals. The largest transportation infrastructure project in the country, the East Side Access is expected to double LIRR's capacity to bring trains into Manhattan and allow MTA Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line to access Penn Station via four stations that will be built in the Bronx, MTA officials said. The East Side Access project is slated for completion in 2022.
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