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Hofstra University tours East Side Access project

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Students, professors and school officials from Hofstra University had the opportunity to tour the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s East Side Access project earlier this month, 180 feet below Park Avenue in New York City. The MTA’s $11.1 billion project is currently among the largest construction undertakings in the U.S.

The project will bring Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central for the first time — if all goes well, by Dec. 31, 2022. It has been called a megaproject because of its scale — the new LIRR station at Grand Central will measure 350,000 square feet.

Hofstra’s group, which comprised of roughly 25 people, was invited by the Right Track for Long Island Coalition — a grassroots, nonprofit collaboration of major organizations, institutions, businesses and individuals who represent over 500,000 Long Islanders that have come together to support LIRR enhancement projects.

Hofstra geology professor Dr. Bret Bennington, of West Hempstead, said that he has toured other projects in New York City before, and that the ESA was similar to the Second Avenue Subway project.

“It was really interesting to see the complexity and the scale of the project,” Bennington said. “Overall, it was a great a civil engineering experience. It looks beautiful and it’ll be an amazing addition to New York City.”

Bennington added that he had hoped to see more of the raw bedrock, but he was amazed at how quickly the project has progressed.

According to the MTA, the station will ease train congestion at Pennsylvania Station and cut thousands of Long Islanders’ commutes by 20 to 40 minutes a day, saving them each a minimum of 10 work days in travel time a year. Hofstra Dean of Honors college professor Warren Frisina said that the school takes part in several trips and lectures in the city. Once this project is complete, he said that commuting would be much easier for students.

“This will also be very convenient for faculty members and students that live on the West Side of Manhattan,” Frisina said. “For our students, every time they go there, they’ll be able to know what’s behind those walls and what it takes to put this all together.”