The largely outdated Penn Station in New York City might soon receive a much needed update. If the plan goes through, the much-hated train station would be transformed into a modern complex that would be pleasing to the eye and offer more room for commuters. However, such a transformation will be easier said than done.
The updated station would be named the Empire Station Complex, and the renovation project consists of three parts. The first part would be to redevelop the main shell of Penn Station, including removing the theater at Madison Square Garden and constructing a grand entrance along 8th Avenue. The second part would involve finishing the conversion of the adjacent Farley Post Office into a spacious new Amtrak center called Moynihan Station. The final step would be linking Penn and Moynihan through underground concourses.
Planners are hoping to move fast. It is said that officials expect private developers to pitch their plans within the next 90 days and that overall construction will be completed within three years. The winning bidder to move forward with the plans would be responsible for virtually all of the cost, which is estimated to be about $3 billion. In exchange, the developer would receive retail revenue generated from the commercial options of the new station.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said of the plan, “It’s going to have this state moving toward mass transit in a way it hasn’t been for decades. Transportation is what made this state 100 years ago. It’s what’s going to make this state for the next 100 years.”
However, with Cuomo’s reluctance to put city funds into the massive project, it is unknown if any developers will want to pony up such a large amount of private cash. This could put the project on halt before it even gets started. So far, the project looks like a good idea, but there isn’t a whole lot of substance.
Additionally, there’s more to the project than initially meets the eye. The station platforms desperately need to be widened so that travelers can board trains more quickly. This could lead to fewer train tracks, which could be a serious detriment to logistics. These are problems that won’t be solved by merely constructing expensive new passenger halls and tunnels.
For now, the project looks like nothing more than a pipe dream. Still, New Yorkers who desperately want an update to their dinosaur train station can dream big.