NEW YORK—A transformed Penn Station would replace windowless concourses and dingy, cramped corridors with light-filled spaces and easier access to an improved streetscape, under plans revealed recently by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the area’s major transit agencies.
The station, situated underneath Madison Square Garden, is the nation’s busiest and operates – at full capacity during normal times – with roughly 600,000 passengers passing through daily on regional rail lines, Amtrak and the New York subway system.
The two alternatives revealed are the culmination of a year-long process involving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, architectural firm FXCollaborative and engineering firm WSP.
Both envision the use of atriums to create natural light, similar to that used in the new, $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall across Eighth Avenue, which opened in January and serves Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road.
One alternative would retain the station’s two-level boarding configuration but would add a central atrium and a new entrance on Eighth Avenue, as well as widened concourses and more access points to train platforms. The new entrance would require the purchase of Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
The second alternative would create an open, single-level concourse larger than the iconic Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal, with two new entrances on the Seventh Avenue side and a multi-storey atrium in a former taxiway between the station and adjacent 2 Penn Plaza that has been closed since 9-11.
The announcement didn’t put a price tag on the project, but it is expected to cost billions and require federal funding. The plans didn’t mention the proposed expansion of Penn Station to the south to add new train tracks, another multibillion-dollar endeavour considered crucial to expanding capacity once a new rail tunnel is built between New York and New Jersey.
The tunnel, the centrepiece of the Gateway rail project, currently is seeking federal approval and dollars to begin construction and is expected to take six to seven years to complete once those hurdles are surmounted.