Plans unveiled for $3bn New York station upgrade
New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo has unveiled plans to transform Penn Station and the Farley Post Office Building into a ‘world-class’ transportation hub.
The plan, which is called the Empire Station Complex, involves use of a public-private partnership to expedite the approximately US$3bn (£2bn) project.
Solicitations are being issued to potential developers this week and are due back in 90 days, with groundbreaking targeted for this year for substantial completion of the construction within three years.
The project will feature significant passenger improvements, including first-class amenities, natural light, increased train capacity and decreased congestion, and improved signage to dramatically enhance the travel experience.
The original Penn Station first opened in 1910, and its underground areas have remained in continual use since then. In its current form, the station is designed to accommodate 200,000 daily passengers. In practice, it is the busiest train station in North America, serving more than 650,000 passengers every day, and is plagued by widespread pedestrian congestion and outdated facilities.
“Penn Station is the heart of New York’s economy and transportation network, but it has been outdated, overcrowded, and unworthy of the Empire State for far too long,” said Cuomo. “We want to build Penn Station to be better than it ever was, and that is exactly what we are going to do. 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 existing Penn Station facility, which lies beneath Madison Square Garden and between 7th and 8th Avenues, will undergo major renovation. The project will widen existing corridors, reconfigure ticketing and waiting areas, improve connectivity between the lower levels and street level, bring in natural light, improve signage, simplify navigation and reduce congestion, and expand and upgrade the retail facilities and passenger amenities on all levels of the station. The new station will include Wi-Fi, modernised train information displays and streamlined ticketing.
Several design alternatives will be considered, including major exterior renovations involving 33rd street, 7th avenue, 8th avenue, and/or Madison Square Garden Theater.
As part of the Governor’s proposal, the Farley Post Office, which sits across 8th Avenue from Penn Station, will be redeveloped into a train hall. The train hall will be connected to Penn Station via an underground pedestrian concourse, and increase the station’s size by 50%. At 210,000 square feet, the train hall will be roughly equivalent in size to the main room at Grand Central Terminal. The new facility will offer more concourse and circulation space, include retail space and amenities such as Wi-Fi and digital ticketing. It will feature 30 new escalators, elevators and stairs to speed passenger flow.
The construction cost is expected to be in excess of US$3bn, including US$2bn to redevelop Farley and Penn into a world-class transportation hub and at least US$1bn. Nearly all of the work will be funded by private investment, in exchange for an interest in the long-term revenue stream generated by the retail and commercial rents.
The redevelopment builds on work already under way beneath the Farley Building, in which construction of the lower concourse and underground connections to the subway and Penn Station is on budget and on schedule, for completion in the fall of 2016.
The new complex will also lay the foundation for a further expansion south, connecting to the planned Gateway high-speed rail project.
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This article was published on 8 Jan 2016 (last updated on 8 Jan 2016).