WATCH: Blasting a New Cavern, 160 Feet Below Midtown Manhattan

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A massive feat of engineering came a step closer to completion when workers blasted through several tons of bedrock, creating the caverns that will soon allow Long Island Rail Road trains into New York City’s Grand Central Station for the first time.

More than 2,400 explosions have been set off during the construction of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority‘s East Side Access Project, reports NY1.com; the video, above, is of the final series of blasts detonated. All the work is taking place some 14 stories below street level.

(PHOTOS: Beneath the City: Images from the East Side Access Project)

“This is a very significant milestone,” Michael Horodniceanu, president of MTA Capital Construction, said in a statement. “The caverns are essentially now fully excavated. Much work remains to be done to build the platforms and tracks, and finish what is currently raw, cave-like space. But we now have a fully built shell in which all future work will take place.”

(PHOTOSLower Manhattan Where New York Was Born)

Teams of urban miners, known as sandhogs, drilled hundreds of 1.5-inch-diameter holes, which were filled with as much as 500 lbs of explosive powder, into the bedrock beneath midtown Manhattan. The 857,000 cubic yards of excavated material would be enough to cover Central Park one foot deep, reports the New York Daily News.

The $8.76 billion project is now on target for a 2017 completion. Nearly 1,000 employees have been working beneath some of the busiest streets in the world 24 hours a day, five days a week, since March 7, 2007 to get it finished on time.

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