This week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released new reconstruction options for revitalizing Pennsylvania Station in Midtown, as part of the proposed Empire Station Complex. The initiative is a massive undertaking by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak, and NJ Transit to unify all three concourses into a fresh and modern space with FXCollaborative and WSP handling design. The existing Penn Station served 600,000 passengers daily and the redesign will accommodate the future influx of customers using both the existing Penn Station and the upcoming Penn Station expansion. The state projects ridership to grow to 830,000 daily users in 2038, about 54 percent of whom will be MTA customers using LIRR, Metro-North, and the subway, and 42 percent to be NJ Transit customers, with remaining four percent to be Amtrak customers.
“The Empire Station Complex is a transformative project that will support and deliver on the long-delayed Gateway vision for the entire East Coast and enhance the passenger experience in North America’s busiest transportation hub. Together with our partners in New Jersey and at Amtrak, New York State is moving quickly to advance this comprehensive plan,” said Governor Cuomo. “These reconstruction alternatives provide a framework for a new and improved Penn Station that serves as an appropriate doorway to a world-class city. Every single day, we get closer to the end of COVID-19 and the beginning of a new post-pandemic economy, and this project will be a cornerstone of the revitalized New York City that we must build together.”
Critical elements of the re-envisioning include additional concourse space to reduce congestion now in and handle future growth, simplifying ticketing, increasing mobility through more stairs, escalators, and elevators, upgrading to full accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and new retail.
The first option known as the Two-Level Alternative uses the existing two-level boarding configuration as a starting off point. It also creates a central atrium, improves the existing layout, repurposes some of Amtrak’s space for NJ Transit’s commuters and operations, adds new vertical access points to platforms, widens concourses, and creates new entrances at sidewalk level along Eighth Avenue. This redesign can be incorporated into plans of a new Eighth Avenue entrance and a light-filled West Train Hall where the Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater currently stands.
The Single-Level Alternative redesign turns Penn Station into an open, single-level concourse. This option eliminates low ceiling heights and simplifies entrances and exits from trains and street level, by removing 40 percent of the upper level so that all the public concourses could be two or three stories high. The new circulation areas improves sightlines and access to platforms, tracks, and station entrances/exits. A multi-story, mid-block Train Hall with atrium would bring in natural light. Like the Two-Level Alternative, this redesign can also be combined with a new Eighth Avenue entrance and the light-filled West Train Hall.
Public feedback is requested here before the reconstruction can move forward. Also next in the process would be the securing of funding by the state and an Environmental Impact Statement for the Penn Station expansion.