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Key Part Of MTA’s East Access Project Fast-Tracked

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The East Side Access project will connect the Long Island Rail Road with a new concourse underneath Grand Central Terminal. This photo shows construction underway on September 19, 2011. (credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority Flickr/Patrick Cashin)

The East Side Access project will connect the Long Island Rail Road with a new concourse underneath Grand Central Terminal. This photo shows construction underway on September 19, 2011. (credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority Flickr/Patrick Cashin)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new effort to speed up the East Side Access project linking the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal is underway.

The $7.4 billion mega project has been plagued with delays and far-off completion date, putting it on the back burner in the minds of many commuters.

But now, two years may be shaved off part of the project thanks to a new contract and schedule with Dragados, the company excavating the tunnels for the new rail line.

The new deadline for completion of the digging of the main tunnel of the East Side Access project is August of 2013.

“That would be fantastic, it would make my life a lot easier,” commuter Bill Maroney told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin. “Right now, I go to Penn Station and take the shuttle over to Grand Central.”

Once complete, the perks will include extra trains at Grand Central and a new LIRR train station in Sunnyside.

But project managers warn there is no guarantee, with their biggest concern being a separate project for Amtrak getting in the way.

That project involves replacing all of the tracks inside the four East River tunnels which could take up to four years and is being staged from the same Long Island City rail yard used for the East Side Access project.

Aaron Donovan, spokesman for the MTA, says though that the overall project is expected to get wrapped up in a few years.

“It will be between June of 2016 and April of 2018,” Donovan said. “We’re currently undergoing a rebaselining process to determine the scheduled completion.”

That said, Donovan believes the wait will be worth it.

“This project will dramatically transform the way Long Islanders use the Long Island Rail Road. Now you’ll have a choice from every station as to whether you want to go to Grand Central, Penn Station or Brooklyn.”

For more information about the project, click here.

What do you think? Sound off below in our comments section….

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