Transit officials are mulling proposals to bring more light into Penn Station’s dreary corridors — without having to move Madison Square Garden, according to a new report.
MTA exec Janno Lieber presented two concepts on Friday to “city, state, community and advocacy leaders,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Under one proposal, 40 percent of the station’s upper level would be eliminated — creating a single-level facility with 40-foot-high ceilings. The concourses would be widened to make up for the lost capacity.
The other concept would keep the upper level in place but create an atrium in a former Amtrak waiting area. Both revamps would transform the station’s blueprint into a grid, the report said.
“You are lost in this enclosed box,” Lieber told the WSJ. “What we want to do in either version is to open it up.”
Lieber did not provide a cost estimate for either proposal, the Journal said. He told the paper any Penn Station revamp could be funded as part of the $30 billion Gateway Program, which includes building a new tunnel under the Hudson River.
Penn Station is owned by Amtrak, whose president told the WSJ the railroad is working to develop a “consensus master plan” for the station, which served 600,000 people daily before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to dramatically expand the Long Island Rail Road’s footprint at the station by annexing an entire block just south of the station to make room for eight new tracks.
Critics say Cuomo’s “Empire Station Complex” project — which also includes plans for 10 new skyscrapers — is being pushed through without oversight from the city or state legislature, The Post reported over the weekend.
Instead, the project is advised by a 13-member “Community Advisory Committee” — the group that heard Lieber’s presentation last week. The project will not undergo ULURP, or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure — a standardized process for public review of projects in the city.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) — who reps much of the area surrounding the station, but not the station itself — told The Post that he and other elected officials skipped Friday’s meeting “in solidarity with our local community boards.”
State senate leadership declined to include a $1.3 billion bond for the project in their proposed budget released over the weekend, Hoylman said — defying Gov. Cuomo’s wishes.
“There hasn’t been sufficient transparency and communication by the state with the public and the surrounding community about it,” Hoylman said.
“We’re trying to put the brakes on it until the community fully weighs in. They have to come to us for the money. What it looks like is they’re trying to ram this through — pay for it first and come up with the details later.”