NEW YORK — New York state will transform Penn Station into a "grand," single-level train hall as part of a new plan that scales down a broader Cuomo-era proposal, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Hochul announced a plan for the Midtown transit hub that will include a new, "sunlit" train hall, higher ceilings, new escalators, staircases and elevators and an underground pedestrian concourse that connects the station to Herald Square.
The project is set to take four to five years to complete and cost $6 to $7 billion, Hochul said.
It will also include several new buildings housing up to 1,800 residential apartment units - 540 of which will be permanently "affordable" - space for community and social services, eight acres of public space, and new protected bike lanes, she said.
The governor described the existing Penn Station as a "depressing" transit hub.
"It's confusing. It's cramped. It's crowded," she said. "New Yorkers deserve a world-class transportation system."
"It's a new day, my friends and it's time for a new Penn Station," she went on to say, adding that the overhaul would make commuting through Penn Station a more "positive, uplifting experience."
The new train hall will be "bigger than the Grand Central and Moynihan train halls combined," Hochul noted in a tweet.
Several hours after Hochul’s announcement, MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber gave reporters a tour of the places in Penn Station where he believes improvements can be made.
“Look how crowded it is? Look how unpleasant and uninviting this is,” Lieber said of the platforms where commuters wait for their trains to arrive.
Lieber was among the transportation officials who came out in support of Hochul’s plan on Wednesday.
In particular, he said he was excited about plans that would make the train station easier to navigate without confusion.
“Nobody can tell you which way is north, east, west? It’s impossible,” Lieber said.
Hochul’s list of changes, which are supposed to address problems highlighted by Lieber, also include the addition of more entrances and exits into the station and creating more spacious passageways for commuters.
Hochul also said she believed that Cuomo’s original plan did not reflect any community input on the project.
Her proposal, however, has a long list of supporters, including one who was initially opposed to parts of Cuomo’s plan.
State Senator Brad Hoylman tweeted he was “glad that community input” was guiding Hochul’s plans to “revamp America’s busiest transit hub.”
The Regional Plan Association (RPA), which did support Governor Cuomo’s plan, is now also showing their support for Hochul’s plan.
“RPA has supported building the Gateway project and fixing Penn Station for decades — and recent poll results show the public supports this as well. Now is the time to move ahead; we need all the components of this vital project to proceed as quickly as possible,” said Tom Wright, the president and CEO of the Regional Plan Association.
The differences between Hochul’s and Cuomo’s plans are also significant.
While Hochul’s administration puts the cost of her proposal at about $6 to $7 billion, Governor Cuomo’s project was estimated to cost about $20 billion.
The differences don’t stop at the price tag: Cuomo’s plan called for the construction of additional tracks and platforms and other major infrastructure renovations. That project, however, wasn’t expected to be completed until 2038, according to the former governor.
In addition, Hochul said after listening to community input, her administration’s project would lower building heights from her predecessor’s plan, reducing the density by 1.4 million square feet.
Programming note: Hochul is slated to appear on "Mornings On 1" on NY1 on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
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