NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There is literally a light at the end of the tunnel for Long Island Railroad riders at Penn Station.
The station's main corridor is a light-filled makeover. Other changes will also bring the LIRR's side of the station into the 21st century.
That aging portion of Penn Station is almost no one's idea of a pleasant place in 2019.
"Old-fashioned, gritty New York," commuter Darren Harrison said.
"It's very claustrophobic and it just feels like constantly being in a basement, or a bunker, which is not nice," Risa Pappas added.
The main corridor that runs under 33rd Street gets jam packed during rush hour or after special events upstairs at Madison Square Garden.
"Twenty-five thousand people left Madison Square Garden, it was tough to move around down here," David Milius explained.
Officials have long worried about too few exits in the station during emergencies.
Now, a funding commitment is in place to widen the main corridor by 20 feet, raise the ceiling, and improve the lighting and signage.
The renovation will also punch through the ceiling to create the first ever LIRR direct access route to Seventh Avenue.
"Right now, the entrance from Seventh Avenue is really complicated. You have to wander through 'Amtrak Land," find another corridor, find another stairway… That's all going to be gone, you'll be able to come in direct from Seventh Avenue," MTA chief development officer Janno Lieber said.
Like almost every public transportation project in New York City, this one carries an eye-popping price tag - $600 million. The state of New York is picking up two-thirds of the cost of the Penn Station upgrades.
CBS2's Tony Aiello spoke to several New Yorkers, some who aren't a fan of spending taxpayer dollars on a makeover.
"Spend it in other places where it's more needed," David Milius argued.
On the Eighth Avenue side, additional access from the new amenity-filled "Moynihan Train Hall" at the end of 2020 will mean LIRR commuters might actually enjoy the wait for their rides.
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