Watch CBS News

Gov. Cuomo Announces Plans For Sweeping Renovations At Penn Station

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a major announcement Wednesday on a long-awaited project that will affect Long Island and New Jersey commuters.

Calling Penn Station "un-New York" and a "miserable experience," Cuomo wants to jump-start long-delayed plans to overhaul the transit hub.

"It its dark, it's constrained. It is ugly. It is dated architecture," Cuomo said.

The plans include moving the Amtrak waiting area across the street to the old Farley Post Office, as well as redeveloping the NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road concourses.

The Farley Post Office would be converted into a grand, airy, well-lit waiting area for Amtrak trains. Relocating the Amtrak waiting area would clear the way for renovation of the NJ TRANSIT and LIRR concourses.

The plan is similar to the "Moynihan Station" project first proposed in the 1980s when Cuomo's father was governor.

Commuters had some strong opinions about Penn Station, which is the busiest train station in the country.

"This is a cesspool here, it really is," said Barbara Lynch of Glen Ridge told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

"It's chaotic and archaic," said Alan Rosen of Woodmere.

"The building's very old, very busy," said Frank Novello of Staten Island. "It's centrally located here in New York City and it's time to be redone. It really is."

"It's like a maze down here," one commuter told WCBS 880's Sean Adams. "It's dangerous, we need more light."

As far the renovation plans were concerned, commuters seemed enthusiastic.

"I think that's a great idea. They should've done that a long time ago and make it look like Grand Central," Lynch said.

"We pay a good amount of money to come travel through Penn Station," said Cynthia Washington of Bloomfield. "We have nowhere to sit. Sometimes, if you come in the afternoon at rush hour, you barely have standing room."

Ronkonkoma resident Gregory Witherspoon told Grymes he'd like to see more escalators, improved waiting areas and better bathrooms.

"You want something that when tourists come that will be a tourist attraction as well, make it like a museum down there," another commuter said. "You go to other cities and you see murals, sculptures, that would be a wonderful way to do it."

But not everyone sees the need for a change.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," one woman told Grymes. "It works every day for me."

Rosen expressed concern about the cost.

"I think it's an excellent idea. Problem is, who's gonna pay for it?" he said.

Cuomo said the project would be paid for through a public-private partnership and would cost roughly $3 billion.

Rather than presenting a specific plan, the governor asked potential bidders to choose from a menu of five different renovation options. One would just renovate the underground space, while the other four would also change the streetscape.

Wasting no time, Cuomo said the redevelopment of Penn Station will start "this week," 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported. The governor asked private developers to submit proposals within the next 90 days.

Still, others said they're more concerned about railway infrastructure than the station's aesthetics.  

"Split rails like what happened yesterday. This railroad's been here 150 years, why are these rails still breaking?" said Michael Brenner, of Greenlawn.

The announcement comes weeks after federal funding was secured for a new Hudson River rail tunnel that will link New York and New Jersey.

On Tuesday, Cuomo outlined a plan for another long-delayed project -- a 9.8-mile third track expansion on the LIRR from Floral Park to Hicksville.

"They have the worst commutes in the country on Long Island, the average commuter spends nearly three work weeks sitting in traffic every year," Cuomo said. "The answer is improving your mass transportation system."

Earlier plans displaced 200 homes, but this time 20 homes within a mile of Mineola would lose five feet of backyard land. Homeowners would be compensated. Thirty businesses would have the option of paid relocation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.