Amtrak service in New York is severely disrupted for a second day in a row as workers try to shore up a structurally unstable parking garage above the rail tracks in Midtown Manhattan.
Service on Amtrak’s Empire Line between New York City and Albany was suspended Sunday after city officials identified structural issues at a parking garage at West 51st Street and 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, above the Empire Line tracks. The underground garage is connected to a 38-story apartment building called Hudsonview Terrace.
On Monday morning, Amtrak service had resumed between Albany and Croton-Harmon but remained suspended south of that down to Manhattan as Amtrak and the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) work to shore up the garage’s stability.
Passengers were advised they could take Metro-North’s Hudson Line from Grand Central to Croton-Harmon and transfer to an Amtrak train, or vice versa, and that tickets would be cross-honored.
City inspectors were first made aware of issues at the garage following a 911 call on Friday, a spokesperson for DOB told amNewYork Metro. Engineers with DOB and Amtrak discovered holes in ramps in the garage and issued a vacate order for the structure while workers shored it up.
But it wasn’t until Sunday that workers discovered additional, and more significant, structural issues at the roof of Amtrak’s tunnel, below the garage, including cracked and deteriorated steel beams. At that point, Amtrak declared the tunnel unsafe for trains to traverse and suspended service.
“Emergency work orders were quickly issued so the parking garage owners could begin addressing the issue,” Mayor Eric Adams said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday. “We are working closely with Amtrak and other transit partners to protect public safety and maintain regular communication with riders.”
DOB says the deficiencies are contained to the parking structure and neighboring buildings are not at risk. However, work is stalled as the owner of the garage has not submitted a repair plan to DOB, an agency spokesperson said.
Critical repair work at the garage cannot take place until the landlord’s engineer has submitted such a plan, and it’s not clear when Empire Line trains will again be able to enter Penn Station.
“The service is suspended until we get the clearance that it’s safe to run trains on it,” said Amtrak spokesperson Jason Abrams.
The safety of parking garages, many of them built decades ago and not designed to withstand the weight of modern cars, came to the fore this year when a nearly century-old garage collapsed in the Financial District, killing one worker and injuring five others. The collapsed garage, on Ann Street, had a long history of violations for defective structural concrete.
Following the collapse, DOB began conducting sweeps of garages to assess their safety, but the Hell’s Kitchen garage above the rail tracks was not assessed. Under a new mandatory inspection program put in place in 2022, the Hell’s Kitchen garage is supposed to submit a comprehensive inspection report, compiled by an engineer, to DOB by the end of this year, but a spokesperson for the agency said the owner has not yet done so.
A phone call placed with the garage, where two hours of parking costs $47, was not returned.