It’s been over 100 years since Long Island Rail Road service experienced as large of an upgrade as the upcoming Grand Central Madison that will connect LIRR riders to the eastside of Manhattan.
Located under Madison Avenue, between 43rd and 48th streets and beneath Metro North’s Grand Central Terminal, Grand Central Madison is a 700,000-square-foot terminal station with a 3.5-mile tunnel to Queens attached to it.
MTA construction and development president Jamie Torres-Springer noted that the new terminal is many times larger than the existing Grand Central Terminal, and MTA chair John “Janno” Lieber often says that the terminal is “like laying the Chrysler Building on its side.”
At the Nov. 29 MTA board meeting, Torres-Springer said that “LIRR service will be transformed by the service increases that will be made possible by Grand Central Madison, increasing peak service by 40 percent and off-peak service by 35 percent.”
According to Torres-Springer, the terminal is complete in every visible and functional way, with escalators and elevators running and fire alarms installed. However, the MTA is still working on system testing and commissioning to ensure that all of the systems built in are functioning as prescribed by law and code. Torres-Springer said that everything is going well, but the “long pole in the tent” is finalizing the flow of the air-flow systems to confirm that they can move air quickly throughout the platforms and new concourse, in the event of a smoke condition. The systems are all installed and there are a series of adjustments that need to be made.
Torres-Springer assured the board at the meeting that they would not open the new facility until everything was signed off on and safe. An exact opening date for the terminal has not been provided as of yet, but Torres-Springer said they “are confident about opening service this year.”
On Nov. 13, 200 volunteers took a train into the facility and pressure tested the MTA’s signage and wayfinding in the terminal.
Gerard Bringmann, an MTA board member, noted that his experience in construction has given him an understanding of all the different agencies that need to sign off on the safety of the terminal and that none of them—notably the FDNY—will sign off unless it is perfectly safe.
MTA board member Neal Zuckerman said that he knows that the chair of the MTA is very focused on the date of the opening of the terminal, but he cares that it is done right, even if it means delaying the opening an extra six or 12 weeks. He recalled a saying from the Army, “Safety first, mission always.”
“I’ll take safety over mission any day,” Zuckerman said.
Grand Central Madison will feature four new entrances to Madison Avenue, along with entrances into Grand Central Terminal. The new station will have eight tracks, which can accommodate up to 24 trains per hour, and four platforms on two new levels below the existing lower level of Grand Central Terminal. According to the MTA, these tracks are fully separate from Metro-North Railroad, ensuring that neither railroad causes delay to the other.
For more information on Grand Central Madison visit https://new.mta.info/grandcentralmadison.
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