The MTA christened two new tunnel boring machines to kick off the Queens Tunneling Phase of the East Side Access Project. The East Side Access Project will provide a nonstop link to Grand Central Station on the LIRR and create a new transportation hub in Sunnyside, Queens.
Five miles of Manhattan bedrock have already been excavated to create two new tunnels slated for completion in May 2011. In April, the underground journey continues through softer soil in Queens for almost two additional miles. All four new tunnels using customized excavation techniques will be finished in October 2012, while the overall project will be put into service by 2016.
The project has been hailed as the largest infrastructure project in the country at a budgeted cost of $8.5 billion according to MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder. That number is a $1.2 billion increase over the projected budget in July 2009.
The tunnel boring machines were nicknamed Tess and Molina by sixth graders at I.S. 204 in Long Island City.