The governor likened Penn Station during Monday’s announcement to a ring of Hell from Dante’s “Inferno.”
- Moving Madison Square Garden was dismissed as a solution due to cost and complexity.
A proposal to add eight tracks and a new entrance to New York Penn Station, as part of an expansive overhaul to the embattled train station, was announced Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
This is the first expansion of tracks to the station, which now serves Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, the New York City subway and NJ Transit, since it opened in 1910 and volume has increased to more than 650,000 passengers a day.
The eight new tracks, which would bring the total number of tracks serving Penn Station to 29, would increase capacity by 40%, the New York governor said.
“We’ve analyzed this, and we believe the best alternative is to expand by acquiring the block south of Penn Station and increasing the footprint that way and making it a viable system once again,” Cuomo said at a luncheon hosted by the nonprofit Association for a Better New York.
It is not clear when this project will get underway or finish.
The original Penn Station terminal was demolished and reconstructed in the 1960s, and as passenger numbers have increased, the station has not been able to handle demand with the number of people and trains coming in under the Hudson River.
A station once heralded for its groundbreaking subaqueous tunnels at the turn of the last century has spiraled downward in the 21st century into a chaotic, dysfunctional experience. Cuomo likened it during Monday’s announcement to a ring of hell from Dante’s “Inferno.”
“It is no secret that New York outgrew Penn Station long ago, and Governor Cuomo has already advanced visionary projects to improve Penn Station that other leaders only talked about — like Moynihan Train Hall,” Eric Gertler, acting commissioner of the Empire State Development Corporation, said in a statement. “The rehabilitated and expanded Penn Station will create the interconnected, modern station complex that New Yorkers deserve.”
Properties under consideration for acquisition to accommodate the expansion could include a building owned by Amtrak, which also owns Penn Station; the Archdiocese of New York; commercial and residential buildings and the MSG Theater. Cuomo, however, dismissed past ideas of moving the Madison Square Garden arena as too expensive and complicated.
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FXCollaborative, a New York City-based architecture firm, will lead the design team, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Rehab work underway
Cost estimates for the station expansion were not provided and funding options were not clear, but Amtrak will work with the state of New York to plan and finance the project. Payments in lieu of taxes and commercial redevelopment in the area surrounding the new Penn Station entrance could help offset some costs, the press release said.
Work has been underway to rehabilitate the Farley Post Office, on the west side of Penn Station at Eighth Avenue, which is expected to open for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road customers in 2021. This new $1.6 billion terminal, which will be known as Moynihan Train Hall, will help relieve some of the congestion at Penn Station and add about 40 new staircases down to the tracks and platforms.
NJ Transit commuters are packed together as they they make their way to a gate for a New Jersey bound train at Penn Station during the evening commute Oct. 23, 2019. After crowding under train schedule boards waiting for gate locations to be posted, commuters rush to their gates, with sometimes only minutes to spare before their train leaves the station. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has already invested in transformative projects at Penn to improve the passenger experience at the station — including Moynihan Train Hall and an expanded LIRR Concourse — and these soon-to-be-completed projects will drastically enhance the transit hub,” Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Amtrak board of directors, said in a statement.
There will be six entrances and exits in the new, 125,000-square-foot terminal, which would sit between 31st and 30th streets and between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Once that terminal is open, a larger rehabilitation can take place at Penn Station, Cuomo said.
“Redoing the old Penn is not going to be that simple. We’re not talking about a couple of cans of paint and brushes,” the governor said. “This is a fundamental reconstruction of the existing Penn, because we want to change it into a world-class experience, different ceilings, retail, etc.”
Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work covering the region’s transportation systems and how they affect your commute, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @colleenallreds
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