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East Side Access One Step Closer For Long Islanders As MTA Unveils 350,000 Square-Foot Terminal At Grand Central

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The long-delayed East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal was unveiled Sunday.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was there for the first ride before the public grand opening, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.

"I'm very excited. We are almost done, but this is a major milestone," Hochul said.

The project has been a dream for Long Islanders who need to get to the East Side of Manhattan. It could shave commutes by 40 minutes per day.

The project is one step closer to completion. Gov. Hochul and MTA leadership took a tour and test ride Sunday from Jamaica to Grand Central, which took 27 minutes.

"It's going to improve the quality of life for our residents, the productivity as a great city and state," Rep. Carolyn Maloney said.

The East Side Access project started in the 1990s and was continuously delayed and went billions of dollars over budget.

The 350,000 square-foot terminal will be home to retail shops, restaurants and art installations. Eight new tracks will benefit more than 160,000 commuters a day, reducing congestion at Penn Station.

"We are going to increase the increase the LIRR capacity to Manhattan by 45%. That means the overcrowded trains people are accustomed to will be no longer," Hochul said.

"We were already over capacity before COVID. Maybe this gives us a little breathing room and I think Long Islanders will embrace it," Acting MTA CEO Janno Lieber said.

Officials said the project will allow riders to get from Grand Central to JFK Airport in 40 minutes.

Even though the tracks and tunnels are complete, there are still some finishing touches that need to be put in place. Trains will open to the public in 2022.

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