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East Side Access - Manhattan Structures

The East Side Access project will connect the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Main and Port Washington Lines in Queens at the new LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. The connection will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan and dramatically reduce daily commute time for 270,000 passengers.

OHLA USA company, Judlau Contracting, Inc. (Judlau) was part of a joint venture that excavated two, 1,500-foot-long caverns, each 60 feet wide and tall. The caverns now house eight LIRR platforms below Grand Central Terminal that were completed under a separate contract.

Judlau’s scope of work also included excavation and installation of concrete lining for nine cross passages, eight connecting tunnels, five access tunnels, as well as excavation and lining for four escalator ways and five vertical shafts in Madison Yard. For excavation work Judlau used 22-footdiameterRobbins and Seli TBMs, a road-header, and drill & blast techniques. TBM excavation totaled about 5,000 feet, and was performed under an active MTA Metro-North Railroad (MNR) lines, requiring extensive coordination. Blasting was allowed only within work windows provided by MNR, to avoid trains arriving at GCT terminal. 

Ground support was secured using shotcrete with metal fibers, as well as rock bolts. Some 400,000 cubic yards of excavated materials traveled more than three miles on a complex conveyor belt system to a stacking site in Queens.

Judlau also jacked Grand Central Terminal to allow for the removal of old columns and the construction and erection of columns and critical beams. Several foundations of the 59-story MetLife Building had to be relocated, and the building loads transferred, so that the excavation for the ramps could proceed. In addition, foundations of the landmark Hemsley Building had to be shored and protected during construction.


  • Cavern excavation using TBMs
  • Concrete lining of several project components
  • Building foundations support