8 New Tracks for Penn Station
Earlier this week Governor Cuomo released a proposal to add 8 tracks to Penn Station, the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere, acquiring and demolishing an entire Manhattan block in the process.
The additional tracks would increase the current capacity of 650,000 daily riders by an additional 175,000. The details of the Governor's plan are to demolish the entire city block south of Penn Station between 30th and 31st streets and Seventh and Eighth for the expansion of the tracks and possibly converting the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden to a new entrance. The Governor did not provide a cost estimate but Jim Venturi, Founder of ReThink Studio, says the proposal could cost around $8 billion while doing nothing to alleviate conditions in the existing station.
This past spring the Governor announced plans to begin construction on a new "world-class" entrance to Penn Station and a larger LIRR concourse. Those renovations, which Cuomo estimates to total $600 million, are part of the larger Penn Station plan that includes better access points, improved pedestrian flow, and the new Moynihan Station, currently under construction in the Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue. Currently under construction, the new entrance at Seventh and 33rd will function as the main entry point for the station leading to an open, airy atrium for the LIRR and subway.
But these renovations and expanded tracks may be seen as a bandaid solution for one of the most despised public spaces in the city. Many have called for the relocation of Madison Square garden when its lease expires in 2023 so Penn Station can be completely rebuilt, not just renovated with a fancy new entrance – seriously addressing the long term needs of Penn Station. But the reality of a relocated Garden after these new renovations and expansions is seeming less possible. Advocates also call for the construction of the stalled Gateway Plan, which would replace and expand the crumbling tunnels under the Hudson River, allowing for the increased capacity 8 new tracks could provide.