Transit Milestones

Recent months have seen significant milestones for new transit construction in the United States with the opening of new segments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. These represent the culmination of years of effort by the owner agencies in conjunction with their consultants and contractors.

After about 15 years of construction, New York’s Grand Central Madison – the project developed as the East Side Access – opened to the public on Jan. 25. The new concourse, built beneath the exiting Grand Central Terminal, provides direct access for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan. Previously, commuters would travel to Penn Station on the west side and transfer to the east side. The project will save an estimated 40 minutes of commute time. Construction began in 2006 with major underground construction wrapping up in 2014. The project comprises a 700,000 sq ft terminal underneath the existing Grand Central Terminal. Upon completion of the project LIRR anticipates a 41 percent increase in capacity with approximately 275 additional trains each weekday. The project involved more than 8 miles of tunneling in Queens and Manhattan, in addition to the construction of the new underground terminal. It marks the first expansion of the LIRR in 100 years.

On Jan. 7, San Francisco’s Central Subway began full service (initial opening occurred Nov. 19, 2022), extending SFMTA’s Metro T Third Line and marking the first new subway in the city in 40 years. Tunneling was completed on the project in 2014, followed by the construction of three new underground stations.

In Los Angeles, the Crenshaw/LAX (K) Line opened on Oct. 7. It is the first in Metro’s recent round of transportation initiatives, which include the Regional Connector and Purple Line extension, to go into service. The Regional Connector is expected to come online this year. The 8.5-mile long Crenshaw/LAX segment includes 1 mile of tunnel alignment, which was completed in 2017. Plans call for providing a direct connection from the new line to the LAX central terminal via an elevated guideway.

As the population increases and our cities become more congested, the need for transit – and underground transit – similarly continues to increase. While some critics point to the high initial costs of transit, particularly underground networks, the benefits of transit investment are realized for generations. They help create livable and sustainable cities, and provide positive economic impacts for the long term. These recently opened success stories hopefully provide case studies for future development across the country.


Jim Rush, Editor/Publisher, TBM

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