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Long Sought Overhaul at US' Busiest Train Station Restarted

Penn Station, New York.
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Penn Station, New York.

Calling the nation's busiest train station "dark" and "ugly," Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a restart of the long sought-after overhaul of Penn Station, a project that could cost up to $3 billion and include improvements like bringing natural light into the congested maze underneath Madison Square Garden.

He said a request for proposals from developers for the Pennsylvania Station project would go out this week, with responses due in 90 days and work to get started on an expedited basis.

"Penn Station is un-New York," said Cuomo, a Democrat. "It is dark. It is constrained. It is ugly."

Penn Station, in Manhattan, handles more than 650,000 passengers daily on Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit lines. Plans to overhaul it, including efforts to connect it via underground passages to a massive redeveloped main post office across the street to improve passenger access, have been called for and talked about for years.

The post office project, turning the James A. Farley Post Office into the Moynihan Station, named for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has had developers Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust attached to it for a decade. The Cuomo administration said that agreement had been severed but the developers could re-bid.

A Related spokeswoman applauded the governor's focus on the revitalization of Penn Station and Moynihan Station.

"The redevelopment will transform the nation's busiest train station into a modern commuter hub and a gateway befitting the greatest city in the world," spokeswoman Joanna Rose said. "We continue to passionately believe in the project and look forward to reviewing the materials."

A representative for Vornado declined to comment.

Cuomo said a number of alternatives would be considered for the Penn Station renovation, such as constructing large entrances along either of the avenues it sits between, putting new entrances at corners, or renovating the interior without changing the exterior. One of those alternatives would require moving the theater attached to the Garden.