Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to fast track construction on a new train hall at James A. Farley Building, to be called Moynihan Station, which would house rail service for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak. Penn Station would continue to be the base for NJ Transit, though it isn’t clear how significant the impact of the LIRR shift will be in practice, since all three railroads will continue to use existing tracks and platforms. Significant renovations also are slated for Penn Station to alleviate cramped and dreary conditions at the rail hub, the country’s busiest.
The idea to use the general post office building to alleviate pressure on Penn Station has been around for decades. What differentiates this plan, according to Cuomo, is that all the funds and approvals are in place to make it happen.
RPA President Tom Wright spoke to media about the plan’s potential impact:
“The vision for the full complex,” Mr. Wright said, “has got to be a seamless, integrated system. Whether someone’s riding Amtrak, the subways or the L.I.R.R., they should be able to enter the complex and get to their platform as quickly as possible.”
Wright praised the governor for reviving the Farley project after years of dormancy, saying that having the great train hall ready first would make the looming new traffic more palatable to commuters. “The governor is making sure the Farley project happens and it feels like he’s putting real dollars into it,” Wright said. “That’s really important.”
What is clear, or clearer, is that by the end of 2020, New York City will have a grand new train hall. And that, according to Regional Plan Association president Tom Wright, is a good thing, because Penn Station will need the extra space once Cuomo follows through on his promise to bring Metro-North trains from the Bronx into Penn Station, and once the new LIRR terminal under Grand Central opens up, and Gateway comes online. “What’s important and positive about the statement today is that we can have some confidence that the Farley piece of it will be open in time, because that’s going to be a critical backstop when those other pieces start to move,” he said.
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