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One More Time – East Side Access Now Pushed Back Into 2023

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Pushing back East Side Access once again demonstrates New York’s gift for failing to deliver no matter what the cost. An originally promised finish in 2011 fades far beyond the horizon as the total cost leaps to almost triple. Welcome to New York!

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Here on Roosevelt Island, the hideous green fence and the trash heaps it hid disappeared this year, but then, things froze. We waited for news on when the artwork boxed in wooden crates would see sunlight as East Side Access opened.

That hasn’t happened yet, and it made us leary. It was much like waiting for the also promised 2022 re-opening of Sportspark, also a state project. First estimated as a three-month project, Sportspark nears two years without a firm end in sight. And God only knows what’s become of the cost estimate.

In reality, New York State, at any level, simply can’t get things done. Locally, it’s twice as bad as we get a double hit from bumbling, fumbling RIOC as well as the MTA.

“Improving, non-stop” the MTA sign reads, but if they went any slower, it would have to be backward. This scene lasted 20 years, and the garbage strewn behind it was worse. The air shaft for the double East River tunnel became an access point for construction workers.

East Side Access-The Cuomo Mess Is Now Owned by Hochul

“By the end of 2022, Long Island Rail Road service to Manhattan’s east side will become a reality,” the MTA promised as recently as June. Another promise broken.

Not just the time but the costs soared for East Side Access. Governor Cuomo saw his worst legacy balloon from a projected $4.3 billion to over $11 billion, and it’s still not finished.

Roosevelt Island got involved in East Side Access because the tunnel now used by the F Train was a double tunnel. The lower half went unused for decades after one of many fiscal messes canceled the project at midstream.

Only the F Line went into service, delayed of course for over a decade. Roosevelt Island’s much-loved Tram was built as a temporary alternative.

But the project got delayed so long that real estate development demanded both modes of transit, and the Tram stayed.

Sadly, so did the staggering cost and the ugly fencing.

So, What Happens Now?

We don’t really know. The MTA promised only a 2023 completion, but even when the line fully opens, the new station at Grand Central will not be finished. And maybe not all the escalators. The retail spaces? No, not yet.

Sportspark… East Side Access… Which will meet the finish line first? If ever.

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