The MTA's East Side Access project is one of the largest and most complex transportation projects ever undertaken in New York City. This high-profile project will connect the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Main Line and its Port Washington branch to a new terminal beneath Grand Central Terminal, permitting riders seamless connection between LIRR and the East Side of Manhattan, as well as Metro-North Railroad. The new connection will expand the LIRR's capacity into Manhattan, significantly shortening commute time from Long Island and eastern Queens to Manhattan's East Side, and provide a new rail station located in Sunnyside Queens. As part of this complex program, LiRo has been contracted to conduct full construction management services for several contracts, ranging from $5 million to $700 million in value. The project includes seven miles of tunneling in Manhattan and Queens, emerging into one of the busiest rail inter-lockings and multi-track main lines in the country.
What is your role in the East Side Access project?
I am a Construction Manager and Owner's Representative of three contracts: CH057B – Harold Trackwork, CH057C – Harold Trackwork, Part 2 and CH057 – Harold Structures, Part 3.
What difficulties or challenges were most important to overcome for this project?
The greatest challenge is being able to adapt to changing schedules. On this project, there are so many entities coming together to accomplish a common goal, and the slightest change for one party can domino into significant changes for another party. So being able to track the moving parts and fit your piece into the puzzle can be a challenging task.
Tell me a suggestion you have made that was implemented on this project?
I began creating color coded "composite" drawings, using Microstation (CAD), which show the different elements of work to be performed by various parties. In coordination meetings, these drawings are used to show interfaces and work sequence.
Walk me through a typical work day in your life?
There is no typical day on East Side Access. However one typical task I have every day is to anticipate potential road blocks that can prevent the execution of our work, and to think of creative ways of removing them before they bring us to a standstill. This includes extensive communication between over 20 parties including the contractors, engineers, schedulers, estimators, force accounts, community relations, safety, quality, environmental, legal, insurance, risk, change committees, procurement, office of diversity and civil rights, and the engineering, power and transportation departments of both LIRR and Amtrak.
Looking back at where you were when you started your career, where did you think it was going to lead you?
I thought I would eventually become a high school teacher! To be honest, at the start of my career, I was not convinced that Engineering was the right fit for me. However, transitioning to Construction Management was the catalyst for sparking my passion for the industry. Now, I truly feel excited about the prospect of managing interesting projects and helping to complete tasks that appear daunting or even impossible.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time creating art, such as music and paintings, and building relationships within the community.
What three things do you need to be successful in this job?
Flexibility, organization, and humor. The LiRo team at ESA meets these criteria. Ray Busch is the master of flexibility due to the many changing schedules, in response to the demands of two active railroads. Jim Pagano keeps us organized and on-task. And Mike Bonasia keeps us loose with his keen sense of humor. This diverse combination keeps our team successful in an otherwise challenging work environment.
Andrew Nigro stars in a behind the scenes tour of the East Side Access Project brought to you by the MTA
Andrew Nigro, PE, has been with The LiRo Group for over eight years. Initially working as a Design Engineer, he crossed over to the construction side of the company in 2010. Andrew found his passion there working as a Project Engineer on MTACC's East Side Access Project (ESA). Currently a Construction Manager on ESA, he is responsible for the management of heavy civil construction in Harold Interlocking, Queens, New York. The work requires detailed coordination with both Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak to maintain critical railroad operations while completing this complex construction project.
"Andrew came from the design side of LiRo working in the Manhattan office and was very new to construction management. He rose quickly from a young green Project Engineer, to Sr. Project Engineer, Deputy Construction Manager and now Construction Manager on a project. He has worked very hard along the way, taking the challenges head on and fully deserves every opportunity to advance to the next level."
Raymond Busch, III, PE
Associate Vice President