Nearly everyone is in agreement that Pennsylvania Station in New York City, which is the nation’s biggest transportation hub, needs to have some kind of order restored to its chaotic operations. Now comes the challenging phase, which consists of coming up with a solution that would avoid causing controversy.
The national train company Amtrak, which owns the station as well as the lines that run through it, is going through with a proposal to expand the station at a cost that is projected to be $12 billion. This design calls for the complete demolition of an entire block in Midtown that is now occupied by a church that was built 151 years ago.
Amtrak handed out a contract for the design of the station extension on Thursday. The company estimates that the design process may take as long as two years and cost as much as $73 million.
However, this initiative comes at the same time as a separate proposal by the state of New York to restore the already existing station, which has been met with criticism from community leaders.
The expansion of Amtrak is a component of a larger effort known as Gateway, which aims to upgrade the rail system in its entirety. The new twin of one-track tunnels beneath the Hudson River that would connect Penn Station with New Jersey would be the most notable feature of the Gateway project.
A parallel pair of tunnels that were constructed more than 110 years ago and are still damaged by floods caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 would be supplemented by a new pair of tunnels that would run in the same direction. In the long run, Gateway may be able to increase the capacity of the trans-Hudson corridor. This would be done with the intention of making the trip into the city by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains more effective and dependable for passengers.
However, before to the pandemic, all 21 tracks and platforms at Penn Station were already operating at or near capacity. In order for Gateway to fulfil its function, the station must include a greater number of tracks. Amtrak has given a group of firms, lead by the engineering and architecture company Arup, the task of figuring out where they can put them in the centre of Manhattan so that they can meet the challenge that Amtrak has given them.
When building of the expansion is scheduled to begin at Penn, it will be at least a few years before any disruptions to service may be expected. It is anticipated that Gateway will not be finished for another ten years.
On Friday, a hearing will be held in Manhattan to discuss the state’s renovation project. During the hearing, state lawmakers will take testimony from state officials, supporters and opponents of Governor Kathy Hochul’s plan to fund an overhaul of the station by letting developers fill the neighbourhood around it with office towers and other tall buildings. The state plans to finance its portion of the station’s improvement costs, which total 7 billion dollars, using money received from the respective developers.
With this restoration, Penn Station’s network of claustrophobic hallways, which Ms. Hochul referred to as a “hellhole,” will be replaced with a large, bright train hall that would, in her words, “raise the human spirit.” However, influential members of the community have questioned whether it is possible to realise the plan to have commercial developers foot the bill for the station’s rehabilitation as well as the expansion that would follow.
The Hochul design calls for the buildings that surround the station to be mostly comprised of office space, despite the fact that demand for such space has significantly dropped due to the epidemic. It was estimated that the construction of the towers would take between 20 and 30 years.
According to a report that was released by the city’s Independent Budget Office a month ago, the city’s Independent Budget Office came to the conclusion that the state had provided insufficient information about the funding plan in order to determine whether or not it is feasible, or whether or not taxpayers might be responsible for some of the costs. These issues prompted three state senators from from the city — Liz Krueger, Leroy Comrie, and Luis R. Sepulveda — to call for the oversight hearing that took place on Friday. A group of fifteen senators, including Ms. Krueger and Mr. Comrie, sent a letter to state authorities in March, requesting that they “stop the Penn Station proposal until these answers have been delivered.” The letter was part of a group that sent a letter to state officials in March.
On the other hand, Ms. Hochul has been pushing hard for an earlier start date for the station’s refurbishment. Even though this project was supposed to take place after the Amtrak expansion of the station, she made the announcement that a call for proposals for the makeover will be released the previous week.
Mr. Gardner and Tony Coscia, the chairman of Amtrak, stated that the designers of the expansion would consider a variety of alternatives. One of these would be adding tracks to the south of Penn Station, beneath the block of West 30th Street that has been the home of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church for a very long time.