Category Archives: Grand Central Terminal

Cuomo offers no plan to pay for grand projects

When it came to transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech made for some great sound bites but provided little substance.

Cuomo failed to give any specifics of how he will come up with $8.3 billion promised to meet the shortfall his proposed 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan.

Cuomo is kicking the can down the road.

The original proposed previous 2010-2014 MTA $29 billion Five Year Capital Plan was cut to $24.2 billion before being approved.

This doesn’t include $8.3 billion more pledged by Cuomo and $2.5 billion by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to help cover shortfalls in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed $28 billion 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Plan (cut from the original $32 billion).

When will these billions become a reality?

The original proposed 2015-2019 MTA $32 billion Five Year Capital Plan in September 2014 was rejected by the New York State MTA Capital Program Review Board.

In October 2015, a revised $28 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan was approved by the MTA Board. It still needs approval by the New York State MTA Capital Program Review Board.

How can the MTA justify cutting $9 billion in badly needed capital improvements over a 10-year period and still provide the day to day services millions of New Yorkers count on?

How many critical capital improvement projects will be postponed  into the next 2020-2024 Capital Program?

The next 2020-2024 MTA Five Year Capital Program will first have to deal with $9 billion in unfunded carryover capital projects and programs going back 10 years.

By waiting all these years, the costs will have gone up by another billion or two.

This includes $1 billion or more to construct Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway.

Next, is $1 billion or more to finish LIRR Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal.

What about finding $500 million to build the new No. 7 subway station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street?

This was dropped from the original scope of work for the  No. 7 subway Hudson Yards extension as a means to keep the project within a baseline $2.1 billon budget. In the end, the cost was $2.4 billion without this station.

Also needed is $1.5 billion for the LIRR Main Line Third Track project.

Don’t forget $5 billion for New York’s share of the $20 billion Amtrak Gateway Tunnel project from New Jersey to Penn Station. (Amtrak just announced this week that the project cost estimate has already grown to $23 billion).

The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane base line budget of $450 million in the years to come will require up to an additional $550 million.

The final cost may be closer to $1 billion.

The $3 billion new Penn Station will end up needing far more than $300 million in combined assistance from the MTA, Amtrak along with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Does anyone really believe that potential developers will spend $2.7 billion of their own funding to pay for this?

Staten Island residents will continue looking for up to $600 million for the North Shore Bus Rapid Transit.

Queens residents will be looking for $100 million toward the $200 million Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service.

These dollars may be necessary if New York City DOT is unable to secure $100 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding.

Suffolk County residents will be looking for $100 million for the Route 110 Bus Rapid Transit.

Westchester County residents desire $50 million for the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit.

Others will continue to lobby for restoration of LIRR service on old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion, Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens & Brooklyn for $1 billiion to $2  billion) and most recently the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector at a cost of $1.7 billion.

Combined, all of the above would make Cuomo’s tab for unfunded transportation improvements exceed $26 billion!

This doesn’t include how he will pay back a $3 billion federal loan for construction of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Cuomo reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

When the bills become due, taxpayers will be stuck with Cuomo’s tab.

Why would the next Governor want to pay for any of Cuomo’s bills?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked in the transportation field for 31 years)

My take on this. NY State has always managed to “step up to the bar” in the past. Sold bonds for the New York Thruway. Worked a deal with Albany County for the South Mall, etc, etc.

 

MTA board OKs $663 million contract for East Side Access project

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board yesterday awarded Tutor Perini Corp. a $663 million contract to build and finish four platforms and eight tracks for the future MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal underneath Grand Central Station.

The pact marks the final major contract for MTA’s $10 billion East Side Access project, which is aimed at providing a faster commute from Long Island and Queens into the east side of Manhattan, agency officials said in a press release.

The contract calls for transforming two 1,143-foot-long caverns into a terminal station, with more than 12 miles of track work from Queens to Manhattan. Tutor Perini also will build elevators, escalators and staircases to and from the underground station and perform all architectural finishes through the caverns, MTA officials said.

Last month, Tutor Perini was awarded a contract worth up to $79 million to build a tunnel approach and rebuild a bridge in Sunnyside, Queens.

“With the award of these contracts, the eventual completion of East Side Access is starting to come into view, said Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction Co., which is building the project. “This is the next chapter in the long history of Grand Central Terminal and the growth and development of New York City.”

The work to be performed in Sunnyside includes excavation and construction of an approach structure that will allow the LIRR’s existing tracks to connect to one of the four rail tunnels build below the Sunnyside Yard.

Scheduled for completion in December 2022, the East Side Access project also is expected to reduce crowding at Penn Station and nearby subway stations.


Map depicting MTA’s East Side Access project
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Service On Lexington Avenue line deteriorating, MTA

Service on the No. 5 and 6 trains is deteriorating, an MTA official warned on Monday during a board committee meeting.

The two trains only meet the MTA’s wait standards 66% percent of the time on weekdays, data shows. Transit officials say an excessive wait is more than 25% beyond what was scheduled.

On weekdays, the No. 5 was only on-time 40.4% of the time, and the No. 6 was at 46.5%, according to MTA data. The performance drops were 4 percentage points and almost 10 percentage points respectively.

Challenged about the late trains by board member Charles Moerdler, MTA officials said the Lexington Avenue subway corridor saw a great deal of ridership growth. They said they focus on wait standards, not on-time performance.

“The 4, 5, and 6, is a very intense line,” said Peter Cafiero, chief of operations planning, about the No. 6 train, which has also been challenged by higher ridership and construction work.

MTA officials also said they are changing No. 6 train schedules to make them more accurate, which frustrated Moerdler.

“Just changing the schedule doesn’t get the train to the station any earlier, it just masks the problem,” he said.

New York Regions Railroads Struggle Back To Life

New York Region’s Railroads Struggle Back to Life
The latest on the rails: • Service on Metro-North Railroad is coming back today.• New Jersey Transit’s train service is expected to resume by noon, Gov. Chris Christie said.• The Long Island Rail Road is out commission but hopes to be running in time for Monday’s rush.
Metro-North trains will be operating at Grand Central Terminal on a regular Sunday schedule by 3 p.m. today, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced. The railroad will begin restoring service at outlying stations after noon.

Grand Central itself will open at 8 a.m. Check http://www.mta.info for updates.On the Long Island Rail Road, things are a mess.
Many of the yards are still buried in more than two feet of snow, the governor said. So is a switching hub in Queens where all lines intersect on the way to New York City.

Tracks are blocked by stranded trains. Snow-clearing equipment can’t get where it needs to because of frozen switches.
The railroad will try to bring the most heavily used branches back on line first, and hopes to restore service for Monday’s morning rush. There are no promises. Once again, check http://www.mta.info for updates.
On New Jersey Transit, customers can check for updates at http://www.njtransit.com, or call 973-275-5555.

 

I know, I did not put the usual piece of railroad snow removal equipment as the picture. I think it is so cool as NY City just converts their garbage trucks into SNOWPLOWS

MTA makes way for Long Island Rail Road concourse under Grand Central

MTA Capital Construction Co. President Michael Horodniceanu (second from right) holds a pickax as he readies to strike the floor in Grand Central Terminal.
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials began the process of breaking through the floor of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, marking the start of construction on one of several access points that will connect the terminal to a new concourse for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) passengers being built below.

That concourse is part of the East Side Access construction project, which will bring LIRR trains into Grand Central, MTA officials said in a press release.

Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction Co., struck the concrete floor with a pickax, signifying the start of work to remove the section of floor to make way for new escalators and stairways. He was joined by MTA Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti and LIRR President Nowakowski, along with East Side Access project and construction staff.

The work that began yesterday is expected to take 12 to 18 months, MTA officials said.

The space that will house the stairway and escalators is a former seating area on the west side of the lower level dining concourse. A 1,920-square-foot area has been closed to the public to allow construction to take place, MTA officials said.

The larger East Side Access process calls for construction of a new passenger concourse, platforms, and passageways beneath Grand Central, along with the excavation of 42,500 feet of tunnels in Manhattan and Queens.

“East Side Access represents the largest service increase for the Long Island Rail Road in more than a century,” Nowakowski said. “The new terminal will double our capacity into Manhattan, and give our customers a direct ride to the East Side for the first time.”

In February 2015, MTA awarded a $430 million contract to GCT Constructors to build the future LIRR concourse. Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, and escalators and elevators that will make up the future 350,000-square-foot concourse.

GrandCentralLongIslandMapThe completion of the East Side Access project also will allow Metro-North New Haven Line trains to access the west side of Manhattan and four stations to be build in the Bronx, MTA officials said.

Revenue service is forecast to begin December 2022, according to MTA.

Read More on the East Side Project

Michael Horodniceanu, Head of MTA Capital Construction, Talks East Side Access and More

If you’re attending an early morning real estate panel all the way Downtown, a good way to wake up might not just be a cup of coffee, but to listen to Michael Horodniceanu.

The career urban planner lights up members of the crowd with updates and breakdowns of the train system in New York City—bringing out one’s inner train nerd.

As the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Construction, Mr. Horodniceanu (pronounced: horad-nitchy-anu) has spent the last seven years responsible for projects that will eventually make the trains run on time. He oversaw construction of the 7 train station that will open at West 34th Street on Sept. 13 (see story on page 38), and is currently working on the Second Avenue Subway line as well as the long-awaited East Side Access project intended to bring the Long Island Rail Road into a new terminal that will be incorporated into Grand Central.

So it’s safe to say that Mr. Horodniceanu, 70, is constantly busy. He’s balancing future projects, like bringing the Metro North to Penn Station some day, while managing current ones such as the cavernous tunnels being bored under the East River, while facing a capital budget that’s still roughly $3 billion short, according to the MTA.

When Mr. Horodniceanu sat down with Commercial Observer two weeks ago, sporting his trademark bow tie (although he insists he’s more comfortable in a hard hat), a few weeks after speaking on two panels—one at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan on the topic of the Far West Side and another hosted by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce about East Side rezoning—he discussed how a steady investment from the private sector could help fund transit improvements and literally speed the plows under the streets. After all, tunnels the MTA is building will eventually bring workers to developers’ buildings, he said, and the relationship between transit and real estate has to stay symbiotic.

And striking a good balance is something he’s also done with the residents and merchants affected by the drilling and scaffolding on Second Avenue, with the first leg of the project still a year away from completion.

Mr. Horodniceanu, who earned his doctorate in Transportation, Planning and Engineering from what’s now NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, has spent 40-plus years working in urban planning. He founded a consulting firm, The Urbitran Group, sold it once to become traffic commissioner during former Mayor Ed Koch’s last four years, and then sold it again when the MTA tapped him to head capital construction. He’s shifting how and where trains drop people off in the city and is conscious of how millennials are becoming more urbanized.   

CO: What’s going to be the impact of the East Side Access project?

Mr. Horodniceanu: The bottom line is that this will be a game changer for many people that are actually traveling.

The expectation is that on a daily basis, one will be able to save 40 minutes a day. If you multiply it by five, that will give you an excess of three hours a week more time. Figure out what you want to do with that [extra time].

The other part that will be very interesting is that now you’re going to be able to, as an example, come from Westchester, into Grand Central, board the Long Island Rail Road, go to Jamaica and take the Air Train to JFK. It’s something that, if you ever tried to go to JFK from Manhattan in the middle of the day, you would not be a happy person.

In addition, once you free up platform space at Penn Station, you can bring Metro North trains that now only come into Grand Central into Penn Station.

There are people that want to go there, and now today, the same way you have to go to Penn Station and track your way back to Grand Central, people go to Grand Central and have to go to the West Side.

Do you have a number for how many people East Side Access is going to impact, too?

The projection right now is 160,000 passengers. That represents about half of all the passengers carried by, or projected to be carried by, Long Island Rail Road.

How far along is the MTA in that process to connect Metro North to Penn Station?

The only way that that would happen is we first have to finish the East Side Access.

[Gov. Andrew Cuomo] committed money for four stations in the Bronx. When the Metro North trains are coming through the Bronx, they will be able to stop and pick up passengers in the Bronx, and then travel all the way to Penn Station.

Between East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway, what are these things going to do for the East Side?

I’m going to dissect it separately because these are independent in many ways. East Side Access with the rezoning that is taking place now around Grand Central, obviously bringing the Long Island Rail Road there it is going to give you the boost, because now not only is that centrally located but you also can connect it to Long Island and whatever happens now in Midtown is going to be supported by additional mass transit.

The point I’m making is that that’s very important and that will support the additional real estate that is coming online there.

Second Avenue is a totally different thing. Second Avenue [subway] is a project that has been around for a long, long time. In fact, not long ago, there was an article that in effect—I don’t know if it accused me but pointed out—that I’m 86 yearas late. I don’t think I was even planned 86 years ago.

But Second Avenue will also be an incredible push for the East Side of Manhattan real estate. There will be, I believe, a move to increase the density along Second Avenue. We are right now close to about 80 percent done. We have another 17 months to go. I think that it’s going to be tough to complete it because we need to do a lot of testing and commissioning in the process.

Remember our subway system is just about 100 years old. We actually have to take brand-new technology and make it work with lots of old stuff. If you were at our board meeting about a week ago, you would have seen that in some areas our signal system when trains go by, we still do it by hand. It’s not even electronically done. 

Has the community pushed back on the scaffolding and construction around the Second Avenue Subway project?

When we started it [in 2008], the community was not happy with us. I needed to do something [about] that, because this was a first anyway for us—we never built in such a densely populated area—I made a decision [to make] myself the face of the project. That means the message to the residents was that the buck stops with me. I believe that the program that we put in place was extremely effective to accomplish what we wanted. We wanted was something very important. It’s called trust. Government in general is not really looked upon as the most trustworthy player.

We had a gentleman who still owns a restaurant at 92nd Street. It’s called Delizia. He was my biggest nemesis. Every Sunday, he got the politicians around and they basically screamed and yelled. So I went to see him when I decided that I have to do much more. I was able to work with him and make changes to the way we’re doing the work.

And then eventually he became my ambassador. That means from the biggest detractor he now would go and say, “Trust him. He is telling you the truth and will do the right thing.” And I did that.

Could either the Hudson Yards model of leveraging development rights or tying transportation upgrades to upzoning like in Midtown East be a model for filling future capital budget gaps?

At one point our transit system gets choked and you need to expand it. So it makes a lot of sense that the real estate people ought to be much more supportive of New York City Transit and MTA in general. We’re bringing their people back and forth.

People talk about lots of stuff, but basically, I believe that the real estate community ought to in effect come up with funding. When I say come up with funding, someone is always good at giving us a one-shot deal. It’s not good. We need a dedicated source of money so you can rely on it.

You have to maintain a level source of dollars that comes in to maintain and expand our system.

That needs to be done through a kind of taxation. I was at a conference when someone was talking about there being a rent tax that the city collects south of 96th Street. Someone was proposing that should be eliminated. I’m saying don’t eliminate it; just use that to fund transit. Not just fund transit operations, that’s different. Fund capital improvements; fund the maintenance.

Are you an MTA commuter?

No. I drive a truck. In the back of my truck I have boots and hard hats and all kinds of things. I should have had a telephone booth so I can go in and be like Superman and change. But I’m not, so I close the door and normally I will go in the morning to a site and I will be dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and a hard hat. I come here and I change and sometimes I change again.

You always have such good bow ties. Where do you get those?

I get them at Paul Stuart. And I actually buy when I travel overseas.

What project do you feel proudest of?

I would say [as a consultant] that one of them was doing the modeling for Manhattan for the West Way. But, I would say to you that I must be biased to what I do today. The projects that I’m doing today are projects that are changing the way New York is going to be for the next generation.

These are thing you do not get to do normally. You have to be lucky enough to be in the right place in the right time for someone to offer you a job like this. Because I did not apply for the job I have today.

I can be relevant in a way that I would have never been relevant otherwise. I remember talking to my kids, with my son that I just talked to, he’s a civil engineer, too, and I said, “I started a firm from scratch, I had all of these things, I have a legacy [with my firm].” He said, “Forget about it. Go make a different type of legacy.” And quite frankly, what I do today is so exhilarating, and I am in an enviable position that I can be happy [that] I do something that will make a difference. 

For all of Commercial Observer’s coverage in the first-ever transit issue, click here.

Schumer proposes plan for new Hudson River rail tunnels

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday proposed a new nonprofit development corporation that would come up with a financing plan to pay for the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.

The proposed Gateway Development Corp. would help advance Amtrak’s Gateway program to construct new tunnels to expand train capacity into New York City from New Jersey and elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor, Schumer said in a speech, which was reported by several New York news media outlets.

Schumer’s proposal follows a number of recent power breakdowns and other infrastructure problems in the existing 106-year old Hudson River tunnels, which led to long delays for New Jersey Transit riders. The tunnels are owned by Amtrak, but many of the trains that run through them are owned and operated by NJ Transit.

The tunnels have had aging infrastructure problems for some time, but they sustained severe and permanent damage during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Amtrak’s Gateway program is a comprehensive plan to expand capacity and improve rail infrastructure into Manhattan. A major component is to build a new Hudson River tunnel that would allow the closing of the older structures for repair. Although the railroad has made progress with the plan, it lacks the funding to complete it. Last year, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman estimated the Gateway program would cost about $16 billion.

Yesterday, Schumer acknowledged Amtrak’s Gateway efforts to date, but added that completing the project will require the cooperation from other government partners and transit agencies.

“We are fast approaching a regional transportation Armageddon: the busiest rail line in the US stranded without a way into NY,” Schumer said on his Twitter account. “Gateway will take energy, commitment, several leaps of faith, but above all else, it will take cooperation.”

Boardman agreed that beginning work on the Gateway project, including constructing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, was “of the utmost urgency to both the region and the entire Northeast Corridor,” according to a prepared statement reported by the Asbury Park Press.

“To do that, we need to develop a true partnership

Plan to Build Tower at Grand Central in Exchange for Transit Upgrades Is Approved

The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to approve plans for a developer to build a 63-story office tower just west of Grand Central Terminal in exchange for $220 million in transit upgrades.

Plans for the skyscraper, called One Vanderbilt, have been at the center of long-running negotiations to improve the bustling subway station at Grand Central, particularly on the overcrowded 4, 5 and 6 trains on the Lexington Avenue subway line.

As part of the deal, the developer, SL Green Realty, will build new subway entrances as well as a pedestrian plaza at street level, a public hall in the building’s lobby and other upgrades.

The approach has been viewed by some proponents as a model for how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can pay for some projects as it grapples with a $14 billion shortfall in the agency’s $32 billion proposed capital plan. The authority’s chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, has called on state and city officials for more money.

About two-thirds of the $220 million will go toward easing congestion on the 4, 5 and 6 trains, said Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, who helped develop the plan. Mr. Garodnick said riders who use those subways routes must deal with packed trains and delays, which are often caused by bottlenecks at Grand Central.

“Trains stall within the station as crowds enter and exit, creating delays throughout the whole system,” Mr. Garodnick said.

On Wednesday, as part of the deal, the Council approved zoning changes that were needed for the office tower to move forward. The changes allow for new, taller office buildings on the five-block stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue. Mayor Bill de Blasio has supported the rezoning plan, and Carl Weisbrod, the chairman of the Planning Commission, has said the city would work with local officials on a plan for the broader East Midtown area.

A failed plan by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to rezone the area around Grand Central faced criticism from community groups who were concerned about worsening congestion.

SL Green said construction on the 1,501-foot-tall building would begin soon with the demolition of the site at 42nd Street and Vanderbilt. The tower and the infrastructure upgrades are expected to be finished by 2021, the company said.

The money will pay for a series of fixes to keep riders moving, including broader spaces for them to pass through to reach trains and smaller stairwells to create more space on platforms. SL Green will also pay for direct connections beneath the tower to the subway, the Metro-North Railroad and eventually the Long Island Rail Road, which will stop in Grand Central after the authority’s East Side Access Project is complete.

As part of the agreement, SL Green must finish the public improvements before tenants can occupy the upper floors of the building.

The investor who owns Grand Central, Andrew S. Penson, has opposed plans for the office tower. He has argued that the agreement would be a “massive giveaway” to a big real estate company.

Officials at the transportation authority have praised the transit improvements for the Lexington Avenue line, which carries more than one million passengers each weekday. The long-planned Second Avenue subway is intended to ease some of the strain on the 4, 5 and 6 trains, but the first phase is not expected to open until at least the end of next year.

Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority, said on Wednesday that the project would improve conditions at Grand Central and “prepare it for future growth.”

Transit advocates have also applauded the Grand Central deal, saying it served as a test case for incentive plans in which developers pay for transit improvements in exchange for permission to build.

Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group, called commuting on the Lexington Avenue line one of the “most grueling human activities in New York.”

“It couldn’t be more desperately needed,” he said of the improvements. “The 4, 5, and 6 are just heavily, heavily used.”

News From New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

MTA Metro-North Railroad resumed full service on the Harlem Line this morning for the first time since Tuesday night’s deadly collision between a passenger train and a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Westchester County, N.Y., near Valhalla Station.

The Harlem Line train left Grand Central Terminal at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and later approached the SUV, which had stopped on the track at a grade crossing. The train struck the vehicle, causing an explosion and fire that consumed the vehicle and the train’s first car. The third rail of the track came up due to the explosion and pierced the first car. Six people died, including the SUV driver.

The incident, which had forced Metro-North to suspend service between Pleasantville and North White Plains while investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the scene, is being described as the worst crash in Metro-North’s history.

In December 2013, a Metro-North train derailed near Spuyten Duyvil Station in the Bronx, causing four passenger fatalities and 61 injuries. At the time, it was the deadliest train accident in New York City since 1991 and the first Metro-North accident that resulted in deaths.

Between May 2013 and March 2014, Metro-North experienced five accidents that caused six fatalities and 126 injuries, prompting the NTSB to launch a special investigation.

“[The] tragic collision of an SUV and a Metro-North commuter train highlights the critical need for all drivers to use caution at every highway-rail grade crossing,” said Operation Lifesaver President Joyce Rose in a prepared statement, noting that in the United States, a vehicle or person is hit by a train every three hours. “This incident illustrates all too well the devastating results that vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings can have on families and communities throughout the United States.”

ChuckShumerSenator

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast to “quickly” begin sleep disorder-testing of Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) engineers.

Schumer stated late last week that MTA should not wait for a deadly accident before implementing a program to test engineers for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. While MTA developed such a program for its New York City Transit train operators after a light-rail accident in Boston in 2008, and for its Metro-North Railroad engineers after a fatal accident in December 2013, MTA has not yet developed a comparable testing plan for LIRR, Schumer said in a press release.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require all railroads to screen for and treat sleep apnea more than a decade ago, the senator noted.

“There should be no delay in starting a pilot program for testing LIRR engineers who may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, which could put thousands of daily commuters at risk if undetected,” Schumer said. He made his request in a letter sent to Prendergast last week.

The senator praised Metro-North for moving forward with its plan to screen 410 engineers and undergo an initial screening for sleep apnea. Engineers recommended for additional screening will undergo more testing, and if needed, will be referred to sleep specialists for additional treatment.

GrandCentralTrafficBoard

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) awarded a $404.8 million contract for the construction of the future Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The contract was awarded to GCT Constructors JV, a joint venture between Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone Inc. The contract, which with options could increase to $428.9 million, was granted after competitive bids were received from nine other firms.

Funding for the contract will come from a federal grant and local funds, MTA officials said in a press release.

Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, and escalators and elevators that will comprise LIRR’s future 375,000-square-foot passenger train concourse and related ventilation plants at 44th and 50th Streets.

Work in the concourse will include the construction of 17 deep escalators at 45th, 46th, 47th and 48th streets, and the installation of elevators connecting the LIRR passenger concourse to the station caverns 140 feet below Park Avenue.

The contract includes major civil work to create passenger connections from the new LIRR concourse up to Grand Central’s Lower Level Dining Concourse, Grand Central’s Biltmore Room on the Upper Level, the 47th Street Cross Passageway and 45th Street cross passageway.