Cuomo Proposes $3B Penn Station Overhaul

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pressing the restart button on the long-sought overhaul of Penn Station.

He announced Wednesday that a request for proposals from developers would go out this week and are due in 90 days. The project, with an estimated cost of $3 billion, would include improvements such as bringing in natural light to what's currently a dark, poorly signed, congested maze underneath Madison Square Garden.

Commuters, at Penn Station, the nation's busiest train station, with more than 650,000 passengers daily on three rail lines, said the rehab was long overdue.

"It could use a refresh," said Sean Stampley, of East New York. "It's a little tired."

Lauren Assif, of East Meadow, put it more bluntly.

"It's dirty," she said. "Smells like urine all over the place...They need to change it."

Even Cuomo called the station "a miserable experience" and suggested renaming it Empire Station when it reopens in 2019.

Plans to overhaul it have been in process for decades, including efforts to connect it via underground passages to a redeveloped postal office across the street to improve passenger access.

The postal office project has had developers attached to it for a decade. The administration said that agreement had been severed, but the developers can re-bid.

One question remains is how to pay for it. Cuomo has already proposed a new $1 billion AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport,  $4 billion for a new Tappan Zee Bridge,  $1 billion in Long Island Rail Road improvements and $20 billion for a Hudson River tunnel. 

But some observers say the time may be right. Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan said he would cooperate with the rehab plan, which is scheduled be completed by 2019, so some of the political pieces are falling into place. 

"I absolutely think it's doable," said Mary Rowe of the Municipal Arts Society. "Because you now have political commitment -- and private sector that wants to see this take place." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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