New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded the first of three separate contracts for the East Side Access project, it announced Monday.

The project will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into a new terminal below Grand Central Terminal.

Michael Horodniceanu, the authority's president of capital construction, announced that the $200.6 million contract begins construction on the interior work. "We are pleased to be entering this phase of construction," Horodniceanu said.

Federal and local funds will cover the cost of the contract, the MTA said in a statement.

Michels Corp. of Brownsville, Wis., received the contract to fabricate and construct the permanent structural concrete lining, interior structures, and fit-out for caverns and tunnels excavated below Grand Central. Each cavern will eventually contain four tracks, and upper and lower level platform and a mezzanine.

The new connection will shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the East Side. LIRR trains now go to Penn Station on the West Side.

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