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Cuomo: 8 New Tracks to Be Added to NY Penn Station

The new tracks will increase capacity at the station by 40 percent; Expansion plan could allow for closure of old station to redo it

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What to Know

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday a plan that will bring eight new tracks to New York Penn Station -- increasing capacity by 40 percent.
  • The plan will take place by essentially commandeering the block between 30th and 31st streets and between 7th and 8th avenues -
  • The plan is to expand the southern portion of Penn Station; The additional 125,000 square feet could then allow them to close Penn Station and re-do it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday a plan that will bring eight new tracks to New York Penn Station -- increasing capacity by 40 percent.

The governor unveiled the proposal for creating the Empire Station Complex -- a 21st century transit hub on Manhattan's West Side -- as his 30th proposal of his 2020 State of the State.

The plan will take place by essentially commandeering the block between 30th and 31st streets and between 7th and 8th avenues -- changing Penn Station from 21 tracks to 29 tracks.

The proposal is to transform the existing Penn Station site, integrate the soon-to-be completed Moynihan Train Hall and acquire the block south of Penn Station to create an expanded, remodeled and interconnected train and subway complex. The expansion could serve an additional 175,000 people per day and reduce congestion, according to Cuomo.

The plan creates new, larger terminals, and will increase track and train capacity by 40 percent - addressing the underlying and most critical problem at the busiest transit hub in the Western Hemisphere.

More than 600,000 people pass through Penn Station daily on trains run by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, operator of the Long Island Rail Road and the New York City subway system.

The additional 125,000 square feet could then allow them to close Penn Station and redo it, according to the governor.

Throughout the process, Empire State Development and the MTA will work with all local community stakeholders, including New York City, Community Boards, civic groups, affected property owners, elected officials and New Jersey Transit, to ensure their needs are represented in the final development plan, according to Cuomo.

The State will also explore acquiring the Madison Square Garden Theater, allowing for the possibility of opening Penn and creating a new block-long grand entrance at 8th Avenue.

The more than century-old station was considered an architectural masterpiece in its day, and its demolition and repurposing in the 1960s provoked a public outcry. The current station, underneath Madison Square Garden, is the focus of commuters' ire for its delayed trains, cramped concourses, low ceilings and lack of natural light.

"For over a century, New York's transportation infrastructure drove our growth, especially in New York City, and after decades of idle talk without any real action, we are once again investing in large public projects to support a stronger economy. We've built more than any state in the nation, and now we are taking another big step to address one of the weakest links in our transit system," Cuomo said in a statement.

MTA's leadership lauded Cuomo's bold proposal.

After an Amtrak maintenance train caught fire, thousands of NJ Transit riders were stuck for hours at Penn Station, hoping to find some way home. NBC 4 New York’s Wale Aliyu reports.

"I applaud the governor’s bold vision to increase capacity and transform Penn Station as we work to encourage greater use of mass transit with the nation’s first-ever program for Central Business District Tolling. The 21st century, interconnected Empire Station Complex will be an important driver of development for the region, which is the lifeblood of the state economy," MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said in a statement.

"As a commuter who travels through Penn Station every day, I know firsthand how this project will dramatically improve the customer experience for millions of passengers. The end result will be a world class complex all New Yorkers can be proud of," Foye's statement goes on to say.

MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber shared similar sentiments saying that "The Empire Station Complex is a plan that will for the first time in over a century add significant track and train capacity to a modern, interconnected Penn Station. With the completion of East Side Access, the LIRR Expansion Project and the Penn Access project that will bring direct Metro-North service to west midtown Manhattan, this is exactly the type of forward-thinking leadership and investment we need."

The cost and timeline of the project have not been revealed.

Adding track capacity at Penn Station would fulfill one of the requirements of the Gateway project, a more than $12 billion series of rail improvements centered around a new tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, to allow the existing, century-old tunnel to be repaired without losing service capacity.

Critics have noted that even with both tunnels up and running, rail capacity wouldn't be increased significantly unless Penn Station adds tracks.

The project to build a new tunnel is locked in a funding dispute with the Trump administration and is expected to take at least five or six years to complete once it is funded and construction starts.

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