While celebrating Grand Central Terminal’s 100th anniversary, we discussed a wide array of topics regarding GCT’s history, and its place in our lives today. The one thing that we failed to mention was one of Grand Central’s futures – a major one being the East Side Access project. Designed to connect the Long Island Rail Road to a new station underneath Grand Central, the new facility was estimated to open by 2019. Unfortunately, that timeline has been called into question after the discovery of fossilized remains in one of the underground tunnels where construction is currently going on.

The first fossil found in the deep underground tunnel was discovered by a machine operator after partially running over it with his vehicle. Because of the damage to that specimen, all work on the East Side Access project has been halted indefinitely, and experts have been called in to examine what has been found. Paul Olsen, a paleontologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will be one of the scientists brought in to examine the fossils, which appear to be reptilian in origin. Olson has previously identified reptile fossils in nearby Exeter, Pennsylvania, and is excited to investigate these fossils “right in our own backyard.” To date, a total of four sets of fossilized remains have been found in the tunnels. In addition to those remains, several metallic items which appear to be tools of some sort have also been found, as well as several colored ribbons. It is unknown whether these items are related to the fossils in any way.

Speaking unofficially, one of the construction workers on the project said the fossilized remains bear a striking resemblance to a turtle – although a very large one. Fossils of a turtle that large have not been found in this area previously, which means that this could be a completely new species, or perhaps a mutant of some sort. Such discoveries are rare, but not completely unheard of – in 2005 a North Carolina State University student discovered the remains of an extinct species, Carbonemys cofrinii, a large turtle with a shell that measures just over five and a half feet long.

Unfortunately, this discovery may set the East Side Access project back by at least a year or more. Besides investigating and removing the fossils that have been found, further excavation will likely take place to determine whether there are any other fossils in the tunnels. This work will likely be slow going, as to not damage anything else that may be in the tunnel. Few photos of the discoveries underground have been released to the public, as the MTA is attempting to keep this setback quiet. To date, this is the only photo that has been released of the findings.

East Side Access

6 Responses

  1. Patrick says:

    The halting of work on ESA’s not all that bad for the LIRR, considering they got some BIG news today! For the LIRR announced this morning that they have succeed in designing and installing a new ultra-capacity signal system for the East River Tunnels! This new signal system is expected to double the amount of trains the LIRR can run into Penn Station…so they won’t need ESA after all!

  2. Backshophoss says:

    Believe Cartoon Network has 1st dibs on those fossils,should get done in
    a few months for removal and display at the “UnNatural History Museum

  3. James Lamkin says:

    I’m surprised that they didn’t conduct an environmental impact study!

  4. Michael Napolitano says:

    Thought the picture was going to be the fossilized remains of a New York Central or New Haven commuter from back in Penn Central days. I think some of those harried travelers are still reported missing by their families and loved ones!

  5. Patrick says:

    Some people claim that there is actually a century-old steam locomotive buried deep underground somewhere near the Atlantic Terminal LIRR station, and with all the possible things one might find underneath a place with as much history as Grand Central, I might actually believe a story that they might’ve come across some old artifact and all work had been halted (but only if it came across on one of the other 364 days of the year, though! :-) )

  6. Jeff M. says:

    Not fair – this came in my email feed TODAY – April 2nd – so I was all ready to FORWARD it until I looked carefully at the photo and then noticed the actual date on the post was April 1st! That delay in the email feed could have gotten me into serious trouble. Well, not serious trouble, but I would have looked like an idiot. Which I guess I am. Okay, forget I said anything…

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