New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the commencement of a $590m construction to modernise New York City’s Park Avenue viaduct, which carries all metro-north trains in and out of Grand Central’s terminal.

Phase one of the project is to build a substructure, beginning in Q3 2023, with superstructure construction commencing in Q2 2024 and the conclusion of the project slated for 2026.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) explained that the project will ensure staple benefits for passengers including maintaining public safety, ensuring resilience across the viaduct and the continuation of metro-north services for 98% of the fleet.

The first phase of the project will replace major segments of the elevated steel structure whose history dates back to the late 1800s. According to the MTA, $500.9m of the $590m investment for phase 1 will be federally funded.

Governor Kathy Hochul emphasised how the viaduct replacement will offer safer benefits to passengers, saying: “Carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers every day, the Park Avenue Viaduct is a critical piece of our transportation infrastructure.

“This replacement is essential to providing faster and safer service to our Metro-North customers while minimising impact to the local community.”

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The MTA noted that Phase 1 will ensure the replacement of the structures, tracks, power, communications and signal system from East 115th Street to East 123rd Street.

MTA Metro-North railroad president Catherine Rinaldi added: “Every train Metro-North operates east of the Hudson River-750 passenger trains a day – either travels over the Park Avenue Viaduct or connects with a train that does.

“So to call this 130-year-old infrastructure ‘critical’ seems like an understatement. Metro-North is extremely appreciative that MTA Construction & Development has prioritised replacement of the viaduct in a timely way that will allow the railroad to continue operations without significant disruption to schedules.”

Alongside this announcement, the MTA has entered a project labour agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

According to MTA, this agreement is a commitment to working with union partners on worker safety and labour efficiency.

The MTA has noted the significance of this project on Park Avenue’s infrastructure, over 750 trains use the viaduct daily carrying over 220,000 passengers.