Gov. Cuomo announces plans to restart renovation of Penn Station

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Joe Torres reports on Gov. Cuomo's plans for a transformation of Penn Station.

New plans to renovate Penn Station are getting back on track.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday the overhaul of the landmark transportation hub.

The Moynihan Station project would involve a takeover of the Farley Post Office across the street on Eighth Avenue.

The plan calls for moving Amtrak's current waiting area from Penn Station into a grand train hall at the massive post office.

That would allow for the redevelopment of the existing Penn Station concourses for New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.

"It is dark. It is constrained. It is ugly," said Cuomo, summarizing the 'miserable experience' suffered by the 650,000 people who travel through Penn Station each work day.

"It's tough. It's very crowded. A lot of people don't really care about where you are going or how fast you are trying to get there," said commuter Keith Capers.

The governor unveiled an ambitious plan for the new Empire Station complex, calling for a comprehensive redevelopment of the station, along with the construction of a modern and spacious train hall at the Farley Post Office and then a brand new passageway linking the two structures.

"And when you put the two together they will double the capacity or triple the capacity of the current station, making one complex which we call the Empire State Station," said Cuomo.

He referred to his plan as a 'tremendous undertaking'. The chairman of one transportation watchdog group had a different description.

"Lipstick on a pig...this is not gonna change one iota for commuters in terms of their transportation time, philosophy and ease of travelling," said Joseph Sitt of the Global Gateway Alliance.

Commuters meantime asked the question that was never answered at the governor's news conference.

"We can easily say that it needs an upgrade but it's like, where is the money coming from? Where do you find money to do that?", said Desiree Archie.

Perhaps through public-private partnerships coupled with federal and state funding. But the failure to lock in all of that necessary cooperation is what has derailed expansion and redevelopment plans here for years.

The project - which is anticipated to cost $3 billion - will be expedited by a public-private partnership in order to break ground this year and complete substantial construction within the next three years, the governor said.

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, Cuomo said.

"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 Governor 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."

According to the proposal, the existing Penn Station facility, which lies beneath Madison Square Garden and between 7th and 8th Avenues, will be dramatically renovated. The project will widen existing corridors, reconfiguring ticketing and waiting areas, improve connectivity between the lower levels and street level, bring natural light into the facility, improve signage, simplify navigation and reduce congestion, and expand and upgrade the retail offerings and passenger amenities on all levels of the station. The new station will include Wi-Fi, modernized train information displays and streamlined ticketing.
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