New and Improved Penn Station: Plans Underway

New and Improved Penn Station: Plans Underway
The original construction of Penn Station began in 1905 but was remodeled in 1963 to make room for Madison Square Garden.

On Nov. 3, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her plans to go through with the Cuomo administration’s plan to rebuild Penn Station but redefined the parameters of the plan.

The Cuomo administration planned to tear down an entire block around Penn Station to build new office buildings and tracks, followed by building a new Penn Station. Gov. Hochul intends to complete all these actions in the reverse order — her plan is to rebuild Penn Station first, followed by the construction of the other buildings.

“This area is the beating heart of our city,” Gov. Hochul said during a press conference on Wednesday. She said her plan seeks to create “a Penn Station worthy of New Yorkers.”

The presentation the Governor displayed showed the cramped passageways of the current station as well as the packed sidewalk above the station in contrast to her airy concept station. Currently, Penn Station has little natural lighting and has been described as depressing and dark. Areas of Penn Station have ceilings as low as seven feet tall. The packed station transports an average of 600,000 people a day.

The new station boasts several new features such as a single level train hall with high ceilings and a 450-foot-long concourse. She also plans to reduce the size of the 10 new towers by 7% to make room for affordable housing and public space. Gov. Hochul’s plan includes the construction of nine new tracks and five new platforms, which would be primarily utilized by the NJ Transit

The public space she plans to add is around eight acres including a plaza roughly the size of Rockefeller Plaza that would help eliminate car traffic at a moment when many advocacy groups in the city believe more street space should be reserved for cyclists and pedestrians.

As of her press conference, the governor is planning to move forward with the renovation of Penn Station without adding any new tracks. Gov. Hochul’s proposal is to redesign Penn Station to make it brighter and more airy for the passengers using the station.

“Today we are talking about bringing sunshine, happiness to New Yorkers. Because they deserve better,” Hochul said. “I want them to experience light… I want them to experience an uplifting feeling that they are not getting right now… It’s a new day, my friends and it’s time for a new Penn Station.”

Hochul confirmed that in the future, some buildings south of the station will still have to be demolished in order to build the new buildings and create new tracks, but far less areas than what the Cuomo administration had proposed.

“I’m extremely pleased to see the long overdue reconstruction of Penn Station as the central focus of Governor Hochul’s revised Empire Station plans,” said State Senator Brad Holyman, whose district surrounds the station.

The project is believed to cost around $7 billion and take five years to complete. The tracks and station are expected to be funded by the federal government — split between New York and New Jersey. The start date of construction has not been determined, but the project is expected to be completed by 2035.  

“The era of neglecting our Penn Station commuters and the neighboring community is over. New York leaders are expected to offer visionary ideas and take bold actions, and that’s exactly what my proposed transformation of Penn Station accomplishes,” Hochul said. “This plan puts New Yorkers first, delivering the rider-focused transit experience and great neighborhood they deserve. Investing in Penn Station means investing in New York’s future as we recover from COVID-19 and build a more sustainable, livable city.”

About Kyra Russo 40 Articles
Kyra Russo (she/her) is a second-year journalism major from East Greenbush, New York. She spent two and a half semesters as a Copy Editor and is now the News Editor. Besides the newspaper, she is on the women’s soccer team at SUNY New Paltz and participates in the Rising Hawks leadership program. You can reach her by emailing russok5@newpaltz.edu.