Cuomo unveils ‘world-class’ 33rd Street entrance to Penn Station

 ” class=”wp-image-131168655″/>
Renderings depict a new Penn Station entrance that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday.
  Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Construction on a new Penn Station entrance and wider LIRR concourse will begin next month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

The renovations, totaling $600 million, are part of the governor’s larger Penn Station redevelopment plan to improve access and pedestrian flow at the nation’s busiest train hub. The new entrance will be located at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue and will connect commuters to the Long Island Rail Road concourse and the Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway lines.

“It will be a gateway to what’s going to be a world-class facility and it should look like a gateway to a world-class facility,” Cuomo said of the new entrance. “And we think we’ve designed what is a beautiful new entrance. Architecturally, it’s very powerful.”

The new entrance will feature a triangular glass shed supported by steel cabling. It will be illuminated with varying colors, according to Cuomo, and bring natural light down onto the LIRR concourse. It will have a stairway, three escalators and en elevator. At the concourse level, the MTA will expand the width from 30 feet to 60 feet and raise the height from seven feet to 18 feet.

Cuomo on Thursday touted the "gateway," which will feature a triangular glass shed supported by steel cabling.
Cuomo on Thursday touted the "gateway," which will feature a triangular glass shed supported by steel cabling. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Construction of both the widened concourse and new entrance are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

“Construction ends December 2020, or [MTA Construction Chief] Janno Lieber is not here,” Cuomo joked. “He is relocated to a state in the Midwest under the witness protection program. So December 2020 we are going to see a new reality.”

Penn serves roughly 650,000 daily commuters and the governor’s office anticipates the new entrance will serve tens of thousands of them. 

The final concept differs from the three initial design proposals the governor had pitched when he announced the plans last September. The governor said the original designs were preliminary. During the concourse widening, there will be additional space created for commuters on the northern side, according to the governor’s office. The West End Concourse is expected to absorb additional foot traffic, too. 

The MTA will commit $170 million to the project from its current capital program, with the rest of the funding coming from the state budget, according to Cuomo’s office.

The final concept differs from three initially proposed designs.” class=”wp-image-131168657″/>

The final concept differs from three initially proposed designs. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

To accommodate the new LIRR entrance, the state and city worked together to convert the now temporary pedestrian plaza on 33rd Street into a permanent car-free space.

"Penn Station opens New York City up to hundreds of thousands of people each day. Those who use it deserve a station as vibrant as the city itself,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the Governor, the MTA, local officials and the community to make the vision a reality."

The state is also spending $1.6 billion to transform the nearby old Farley Post Office building into the new Moynihan Train Hall, which is also expected to be completed in 2020.

Cuomo has billed the redevelopment package as a revitalization of the dingy, universally loathed Penn Station complex, which sits below Madison Square Garden. Transportation experts have tried to pressure the governor to go further, though, forming a coalition called the Public for Penn Station that, in part, calls for the moving of Madison Square Garden to allow for a true rebuilding of the station.

"[W]e need to go much further if we want to ensure Penn Station is able to handle the massive influx of commuters expected over the coming years," said Nick Sifuentes, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, in a statement. "That means we need a full station redesign, including moving Madison Square Garden to make room for additional passenger capacity and to ensure Penn Station is safe for commuters as well as a landmark New Yorkers can actually be proud of again."