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Rail News: Amtrak

Cuomo announces $3 billion renovation of NYC's Penn Station


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday unveiled an ambitious $3 billion plan to transform New York City's Penn Station and the Farley Post Office Building across the street into a "world-class transportation hub" in midtown Manhattan.

A rendering of the new train hall.
Photo: Gov. Cuomo's Flickr account

The existing station, which sits beneath Madison Square Garden, will be "dramatically" renovated, according to a press release issued by Cuomo's office.

The project will widen existing station corridors, reconfigure ticketing and waiting areas, improve connections between the lower and street levels, bring in natural light, improve signage, simplify passengers' navigation through the structure, reduce congestion, and expand and upgrade retail offerings and passenger amenities. The new station also will include Wi-Fi, modern displays of train information and streamlined ticketing, Cuomo administration officials said.

The Farley Post Office will be redeveloped into a "state-of-the-art" train hall for Amtrak, which owns Penn Station. The hall also will offer services for passengers of the MTA Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the new Air Train to LaGuardia Airport.

The train hall will be connected to the station via an underground pedestrian concourse, which will increase the station's size by 50 percent. At 210,000 square feet, the train hall will be about the same size to the main room at Grand Central Terminal.

The new facility will offer more concourse and circulation space, and offer retail and modern amenities. When completed, the entire hub will be known as the "Empire Station Complex."

"Penn Station is the heart of New York's economy and transportation network, but it has been outdated, overcrowded and unworthy of the Empire State for far too long," said Cuomo. "This proposal will fundamentally transform Penn Station for the 21st century, and we are excited to move forward with the project in the days to come."

The original Penn Station was built in 1910. The station's above ground area was demolished in the early 1960s and Madison Square Garden was built in its place. What is now Penn Station exists entirely underground. It is the main intercity railroad station in the city, and serves more than 600,000 commuter-rail and Amtrak passengers daily.

A public-private partnership will develop the project, with groundbreaking anticipated for this year. Solicitations are being sent to developers this week, and responses are due in 90 days. Amtrak will issue the solicitations for the station, and the state of New York, which owns the Farley Post Office building, will solicit proposals from developers for that part of the project.

The construction cost is expected to be more than $3 billion, including $2 billion for redeveloping the station and post office, and at least $1 billion for ancillary retail and commercial developments between 7th and 9th Avenues. About $325 million of the funding is expected to come from government sources, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Amtrak.

Nearly all of the work will come from private investment, in exchange for an interest in the long-term revenue that will be generated by retail and commercial rents, Cuomo administration officials said.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman praised Cuomo for his "leadership, vision and commitment" to the expansion of passenger-rail capacity in New York City.

"We're proud to work closely with the governor, the Empire State Development Corp. and others on his team to help lead a rail renaissance in Manhattan," Boardman said in a prepared statement.

Yesterday's announcement was the latest in a series of statements that Cuomo has made in recent days to lay out his program for improving transportation infrastructure across the state. Earlier this week, the governor unveiled a plan to expand capacity on MTA Long Island Rail Road by adding a third track between Floral Park and Hicksville.