Cuomo reveals new LIRR entrance and public plaza at Penn Station

Posted On Thu, September 6, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, September 6, 2018 By In Major Developments, Midtown West, More Top Stories, Transportation

Rendering via the Governor’s office

At a well-timed press event this morning, Governor Cuomo touted the state’s $100 billion building program, the largest in the nation, and said if elected for another term, he’d increase that commitment to $150 billion. Among the many airport redesigns and the subway emergency plan, perhaps no project is more dear to Cuomo’s heart than that of Penn Station. And after a tour of the Moynihan Train Hall, on budget and on track to open by the end of 2020, the Governor announced that the dire safety, security, and circulation situation at Penn Station cannot wait two more years.

While construction wraps up at the LIRR and Amtrak’s future home, the state will build a new LIRR facility in the existing Penn Station. The proposal will double access to the trains with new entrances and an enlarged concourse and will create a permanent public plaza at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue.

LIRR, Penn Station, Governor Cuomo

The LIRR tracks run along the north side of the Penn Station/Moynihan Hall complex, whereas NJ Transit and Amtrak are on the south side. This is why the new entrance will be positioned on 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

In all, access to the LIRR will be doubled, as will the size of the concourse itself, to 60 feet wide and ceiling heights increasing from seven to 18 feet. The new concourse will be lined with retail and dining options and have direct sight lines to the tracks.

The designs for the public space and new entrance are not finalized, though they all show a curving, transparent canopy that will help bring more light into the station below. The new entrance will have three escalators and a staircase to accommodate the tens of thousands of passengers who use the LIRR every day.

With the primaries next week and Cynthia Nixon using the city’s transportation issues as a fierce debate point, Cuomo’s timing is likely not coincidental. Just today, reports came out that show how poor LIRR service remains, despite ousting president Patrick Nowakowski in April. For 2018, the system is on track to have its worst on-time performance in 19 years. However, yesterday, Cuomo broke ground on the $2.6 billion Third Track expansion and LIRR modernization effort that’s expected to be complete by 2022.

As for the LIRR at Penn Station, Cuomo acknowledged the general unpleasantness of being a commuter in cramped, crowded, dark spaces, but he also cited terrorism as one of the main incentives behind the project, saying there need to be ways to get people in and out quickly. He reiterated that Penn Station is the most heavily trafficked transportation hub in the country, with more traffic than LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Airports combined. Therefore, the planning and design is being expedited with financing being provided in the state’s 2019 budget. No exact timetable has been released yet.

Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle is the Gateway Project, the dire plan to construct a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and repair the existing one. Cuomo called out the Trump administration’s failure to follow through on its original commitment to the project in its infrastructure budget but spoke confidently that when the Moynihan Train Hall wraps up in 2020, Gateway will be positioned to commence, though any details on cross-state funding were omitted. Concluding his presentation, Cuomo said:

So, long story short, we’re not waiting for the federal government, we’re not waiting for the $1.5 trillion, we’re not waiting for anyone–we never have, we never will. New York is the state that leads in whatever it is and social issues, economic issues, women’s rights issues New York leads. We also lead in terms of construction. We built things that everybody else said couldn’t be built and then everybody else follows. We’re going to do it again. We’re going to show this nation how to build a state that is the epitome of the infrastructure and transportation for the next century, and we’re making it happen.

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All renderings via the Governor’s office

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Neighborhoods : Midtown West

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