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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis March 25, 2011
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New York MTA Launches Tunneling for East Side Access

In ceremonies March 18, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) dedicated two tunnel boring machines that will be used in the East Side Access project, creating four tunnels under Sunnyside Yard in Queens. The new tunnels, scheduled for completion in October 2012, will connect the tracks of the MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Main Line with the tunnel under the East River that leads to Grand Central Terminal.

Sixth-graders at I.S. 204, the Oliver Wendell Holmes School in Long Island City, submitted almost 90 names for the tunnel boring machines after the MTA asked them for ideas. The winning names are Tess, an acronym for “Tunnel Excavation Sunny Side” submitted by Sangida Bagum, and Molina, a play on the word “mole,” submitted by Mohammad Malik, Michael Morales, and Angel Peralta.

With the completion of the entire project in 2016, LIRR trains traveling through Sunnyside will have the option to head either to Pennsylvania Station, as they have since 1910, or for the first time to Grand Central Terminal.

“One hundred years ago, the tunnels under Penn Station gave Long Islanders easy access to Manhattan, essentially giving birth to Long Island as we know it today and leading to enormous growth in the region,” said MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder. “Today, East Side Access will build on this growth and transform this region in a similar way. Commuters throughout Long Island and Queens will have more service to Manhattan and shorter travel times to the East Side—making these communities even more attractive places to live, increasing housing values, and unlocking the next wave of economic development potential on Long Island.”


A New York MTA employee prepares “Tess,” one of two new tunnel boring machines, before it begins digging underneath Sunnyside Yard in Queens as part of the East Side Access project.


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