With a little more than two years to go before the former James Farley Post Office is transformed into the brand-new Moynihan Train Hall, there are some new additions coming to the transit hub—ones that Gov. Andrew Cuomo say will “take it a step further.”
At an event at the Pennsy, the food hall attached to Penn Station, Cuomo announced a series of additions to the current Moynihan Train Hall plan—most notably, a new entrance for the Long Island Rail Road concourse, along with a permanent pedestrian plaza in front of Penn Station.
The current entrances to Penn, Cuomo says, are insufficient both from a capacity and a safety standpoint. The new entrance would ameliorate that: It would be located on 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, which for several years has been cordoned off for pedestrian use. The proposal announced by Cuomo today would make that closure permanent, allowing for the creation of a dedicated, more highly-designed plaza. A larger neighborhood-wide improvement plan is also on the docket, in collaboration with the local community board and other city officials.
The new entrance would lead to a revamped Long Island Rail Road corridor which Cuomo says would have wider hallways (he compared the current ones to “catacombs” and said they “add to a feeling of claustrophobia,” which, accurate), higher ceilings, and more “passenger conveniences” like shops. This would be located on the north side of the larger Penn-Moynihan complex, closer to 33rd Street.
A cost for the new entrance and plaza was not given at the presser, and while there are renderings showing what the addition could look like, no design is set in stone yet. (SOM is working on the larger revamp of the Moynihan Train Hall.) Empire State Development, which is overseeing the Moynihan transformation, will take the lead on that; Cuomo says the entrance would, ideally, open at the same time as the larger station revamp, which is on track to debut in late 2020 or early 2021.
The event doubled as a way for Cuomo to tout his administration’s infrastructure accomplishments—what he called “the most aggressive building program” in the country—including proposed revamps of state airports (including LaGuardia and JFK), the new Jacob K. Javits Center, and the rolling out of high-speed broadband across the state. (He only briefly touched on the funding needed to implement fixes to the broken mass transit system, with a slide reading “CONGESTION PRICING?”)
“We’re being left behind,” Cuomo said in regards to federal investment in infrastructure. “We are New York, we are not dependent on anyone, we make our own future, and we are not waiting.”
It also happened one week before the Democratic primary election, in which Cuomo is being challenged by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon. Just yesterday, she released an ad that takes the governor to task for the deterioration of the NYC subway system. “While new entrances and color coordinated tiles and countdown clocks are all nice—the Governor has failed to place a real priority on the terrible quality of service,” she said in a statement today, in which she also criticized his willingness to take responsibility for New York’s transit problms.
“The reality of the situation is that Andrew Cuomo has failed New Yorkers. The LIRR and MTA are operating at their worst on time rates in decades, but as we all know, the Governor only admits to being in charge when he can take credit for something positive, and shirks responsibility when it’s not beneficial to him,” it reads.