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Penn Station adds gross roof leak to its growing list of problems

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It’s been a bad week for the station—and its commuters

Major Blizzard Hammers East Coast With High Winds And Heavy Snow Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Penn Station just can’t catch a break, it seems. Last week, Amtrak announced that the beleaguered train station—which has been beset by delays, derailments, and other commute-ruining issues in the past few months—would undergo extensive repairs this summer that have the potential to close tracks (and bungle commutes even further). Earlier this week, the agency confirmed that those repairs could last for more than a month.

Now, the universe is apparently sending out signals that it’s not just the tracks the need help: Long Island Rail Road commuters reported leakage in the train station yesterday, and some commuters were convinced that whatever was raining down from the ceiling wasn’t simply … uh … water.

To put it bluntly: “It just smelled like poop or rather sewage water,” Daniel Goodwin, a commuter who filmed footage of the leak, told Gothamist. Yikes.

According to the MTA, the problem stemmed from 2 Penn Plaza, the Vornado-owned building that sits atop parts of the train station. A Vornado spokesperson, meanwhile, told New York that the company was “are working to clean and restore the affected area prior to this evening’s rush hour,” though parts were reportedly still blocked off as late as 9 p.m.

In addition to the forthcoming Amtrak repairs, the station is due to get a multi-billion-dollar upgrade in the coming years as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s larger plans for improving New York state’s infrastructure. But that revamp focuses largely on the construction of Moynihan Train Station in the old Farley Post Office across the street, though improvements to the existing station (which currently sits below Madison Square Garden) are part of the plan.

Critics say that, as is, that’s simply putting a Band Aid on a larger wound: Just last week, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, in a larger critique of the problems at the much-maligned terminal, called that plan “a project born of political expediency,” noting that Cuomo has “brushed off more sweeping proposals that might tackle once and for all the whole panoply of problems that plague Penn Station.” (One of those: a proposal by architect Vishaan Chakrabarti that would move MSG once and for all, and repurpose its building to help add air, light, and volume to the current Penn infrastructure.)

The leak, then, is a reminder that even if the tracks are repairs, there’s still much to be done to make the station truly workable—and, you know, not thoroughly disgusting—for commuters. We’ll see what form that takes in the coming years.