Photo courtesy of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office
The long-awaited bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the wee hours of last week’s end will mean billions of dollars in much-needed investment in New York City’s own infrastructure. The bill, which President Joe Biden has said he will sign this week, adds $550 billion to be spent on transportation, bringing the total to $1.2 trillion, as Gothamist reports. The New York City region will see that investment in the form of projects like the addition of subway station elevators, upgrades to Amtrak–and a revival of the long-stalled Gateway Project‘s Hudson River tunnels. Carlo Scissura, president and chief executive officer of the New York Building Congress, said, “It really does transform the physical part of our region in a way that we haven’t had a federal investment like this in decades honestly.”
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View from 33rd Street, a shared space for pedestrians
A dark and cramped Penn Station could soon be replaced with a light-filled transit hub with more space for commuters. Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled on Wednesday two possible options for the reconstruction of the Midtown train station as part of his broader Empire Station Complex project, which would unify an upgraded Penn Station and the new Moynihan Train Hall. The interconnected station would increase train capacity at the site, which is considered the busiest in the country. It could serve 830,000 daily passengers by 2038, up from 600,000 the station served each day before the pandemic.
All renderings by the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)
According to the master plan for the 180-acre Sunnyside Yard development in Queens, the former storage and maintenance hub for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Rail Road will include 12,000 affordable apartments, making it the largest affordable housing development to be built in NYC since the middle-income Co-op City in the Bronx was completed in 1973 (h/t Wall Street Journal). The plan by the New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC) outlines a $14.4 billion deck over the train yard on which the complex would be built. Half the housing in the development would be rental apartments for low-income families earning less than 50 percent of the area median income, with the other half set aside for affordable homeownership programs through Mitchell-Lama. The Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) was identified to lead the planning process, and they have just released renderings and maps of the massive development.
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Rendering of new entrance on 8th Avenue to Penn Station via Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is returning to one of his favorite infrastructure proposals: the overhaul of Penn Station. During an event on Monday hosted by the Association for a Better New York, the governor announced plans to build the Empire Station Complex, a station that would link a modernized Penn Station, the soon-to-be-open Moynihan Train Hall, and a new terminal one block south of the existing site. The plan, first introduced by the governor in 2016, would add eight new tracks and increase train capacity by 40 percent at the station, which currently serves more than 650,000 passengers each day.
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If the only rail link between New Jersey and Manhattan shuttered, homes in the region would see a drop in home value by $22 billion, according to a report released on Tuesday. An analysis from the Regional Plan Association highlights the economic effects of a partial shutdown of the Hudson River tunnel, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and carries 200,000 daily passengers via Amtrak and NJ Transit. To make repairs to the 110-year-old tunnels, officials have called for a $13 billion project that would construct a second tunnel to keep service operating while the existing tunnel is restored. But President Donald Trump’s administration said it will not support the Gateway tunnel project, making a partial shutdown of the tunnel more likely, according to the RPA (h/t Crain’s).
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Rendering of Metropolitan Lounge via FXCollaborative
New renderings, as well as additional details, were released this week of Amtrak’s new amenity space in Moynihan Train Hall. ClubAcela is getting rebranded as the Metropolitan Lounge and moving across the street from Penn Station to the new train hall, which is set to open in early 2021. Designed by FXCollaborative, the sleek new space offers more room, private restrooms, free WiFi, and better food and drink options.
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Amtrak is taking a close look at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s possibly-disaster-averting new L train repair strategy as a “common sense solution” for their own damaged tunnels between Manhattan and Queens, the Daily News reports. The agency would, of course, subject the tunnel fix to more scrutiny before making a decision. Amtrak chairman Anthony Coscia said “It is important for us to do a thorough vetting so that we can determine now at this stage whether it’s a methodology that we could use. Because if it is, it will make the process far less painful to our travelers,” much like the new subway solution would allegedly be.
Could this make the Gateway Project obsolete?
Photo via NYCEDC
The master planning process for the Sunnyside Yard project, a mammoth plan to build a new, fully planned neighborhood to Queens, will begin this summer, the city announced Thursday. Along with Amtrak, the city’s economic development corporation said it will form a steering committee made up of local leaders and planning experts who will organize meetings and workshops to gain feedback from local residents. The Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) has officially been tapped to lead the planning process.
A 2017 feasibility study found 70 acres of the 180-acre development would be viable for development. According to the city, the project could bring between roughly 11,000 and 15,000 new housing units and 15 to 20 acres of open space, new schools and retail amenities. About 3,300 to 4,500 new permanently affordable units could also be created. As of last year, the plan has an estimated price tag of $10 billion.
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Grand Central Terminal; image via Wikimedia
Last year, when Amtrak first announced eight weeks of infrastructure repairs at Penn Station, all hell broke loose. Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicted the planned work would cause a “summer of hell” for commuters and even asked President Donald Trump for emergency federal funds. But, to the surprise of many, the disruption proved to be mild and the repairs even finished ahead of schedule. Promising another painless process, Amtrak announced on Tuesday plans for track work at Penn Station again this summer. From May 26 to Sept. 4, trains that run along the Hudson River will be routed from Penn Station to Grand Central. Schedules for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains will remain unaffected.
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Image via Wikimedia Commons.
If you’ve ever found yourself lost in a maze of corridors or trampled in a boarding stampede at Penn Station, help may have arrived in the form of yet another useful mobile app. Beginning this week, Amtrak will offer a free app, FindYourWay, that helps travelers–65,000 of whom pass through the station each day–find their way through the station and avoid the crush of crowds that form around electronic boards announcing train departures, the New York Times reports.
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