A new commuter rail is being built beneath New York City’s Grand Central Terminal — the first update to the Long Island Railroad in 100 years. It’s the nation’s largest transportation project to date, and the tunnel is burrowing through at about $1 million per foot.
The project was originally scheduled to be complete in 2009 but hit funding snags. By its new target completion date of 2022, the terminal will (on the surface) cover five city blocks and will stretch 14 stories underground, housing eight tracks on two levels as part of a new seven-mile tunnel network.
Among the challenges of the enormous underground project was to not disturb traffic aboveground, meaning they couldn’t turn off power to work on certain areas.
“One of the things we needed to do there is to freeze the ground” to remove dirt and build steel supports, said Michael Horodniceanu, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital construction, in an Associated Press interview.
To make room for the 68-foot-high underground depot, 1.4 million cubic meters of rock and muck were blasted, bored and carted out. The completed structure will use more than 30,000 tons of metal, Bloomberg reports.
The project — which also includes a 350,000-square-foot food and shopping center — is ballparked at $10.2 billion, more than twice its original estimated cost of $4.3 billion.
About 160,000 Long Island Railroad passengers on 24 trains daily are expected to use the terminal to get off on Manhattan’s east side.