Ah, the East Side Access. The long-running project to bring the LIRR to Grand Central is now set to take a lot longer. And cost a lot more money. At an MTA meeting yesterday it was revealed that the project, which was once slated to be done by 2015, will not be done until August 2019. Also? That $6.3 billion price tag quoted in 2006 is now looking more like $8.24 billion. Thank goodness the MTA is made of money, right? Sigh.

So what's the deal with these costly delays? Oh, you know. Beyond accidents is the fact that digging for tracks in Queens has turned out to be far more complicated than originally thought:

The authority’s capital construction president, Michael F. Horodniceanu, described several factors that he said had contributed to the delay. Among them were the difficulty of building beneath an existing web of tracks and equipment in Queens and complications caused by unrelated projects, including building developments on the West Side of Manhattan and the planned replacement of tracks inside Amtrak tunnels running beneath the East River.


Another problem in Queens has turned out to be finding the time to do the work safely. Where the MTA is digging is right off the Harold Interlocking system, which provides signals for LIRR, Amtrak and NJTransit trains—800 of them a day. Which makes it hard to time things out. To that end, the MTA is planning this summer to axe three TBD morning trains into the city and shifting the schedules of another six.