Entrance at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue Will Improve Access to LIRR Corridor from Street Level, While Enhancing Safety and Security for Customers
Construction to Begin In June 2019 and Completed in 2020
Renderings of New Main Entrance and LIRR Concourse Improvements Available Here
PHOTOS of the event and and final design renderings are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
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NEW YORK, NY — May 20, 2019 — On Thursday, May 16, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station. The new entrance will be located at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, providing much needed direct access to the Long Island Rail Road Main Concourse and the New York City Subway. The project, which will begin construction in June, will eliminate congestion by doubling customer access and egressing capacity to the LIRR level when it is completed in 2020, enhancing safety and security for passengers. The Governor also announced that the overall Penn Station redevelopment master plan – which includes the creation of the Moynihan Train Hall – continues to move forward, which will fully transform Penn Station into a modern, world-class transportation hub.
A transcript of the Governor’s remarks is below:
Good afternoon. It is a good afternoon. First, let me thank Madison Square Garden and Richard Constable and James Dolan, who have been so supportive right from the get-go. You know, we’re dealing with Penn Station which is underneath, Moynihan which is across the street. And Mr. Dolan and Madison Square Garden have gone out of their way to show us every courtesy, every facilitation, every alternative to make Penn work better. So let’s give them a round of applause and thank them.
We have Janno Lieber here today and Howard Zemsky who have been working night and day, seven days a week on this project. So we thank them very much, let’s give them a round of applause.
We have my legislative colleagues who are very important because we’re colleagues and we work together. And also because they have to appropriate the funding to do this. So it’s about love and money, our relationship. Senator John Brooks, Senator Hoylman and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, let’s give them a round of applause. We also have Assembly Member Judy Griffin with us, good to be with you Judy. And this is Assembly Member Dick Gottfried’s 21st birthday again, so let’s give him a big round of applause. Stand up Dick. Congratulations. Thank you very much.
We’re excited about this announcement today, and even more we’re excited that it’s moving forward and it’s getting done and it is going to happen. And it’s going to make a difference for all New Yorkers. I just want to start with remembering what the New York spirit is all about. Why New York is different than any other state in the United States, why the New York attitude and mojo and edge is internationally known. It’s because New York has always been the place where vision meets competence meets daring. There is a boldness to New York, there always has been. In our ventures, in our attitude and in what we build.
The construction was really just a manifestation of our attitude and our culture. You tell us we can’t be done and we did it. Started with the Brooklyn Bridge, longest ever. Think about 1904, somebody has an idea for a subway system. All we have to do is build 600 miles of tunnel underground. No heavy equipment, no hydraulics. It was just men, women, shovels and animals. 1904, 600 miles. We said we could do it. ‘Well we are going to build a tunnel bigger than any ever built, and the problem is we do not know how you are going to breathe in the middle of the tunnel because no ventilation system has ever been done that can do a tunnel that long.’ We’ll figure it out. Empire State Building in the middle of the Great Depression. The world is ending and we set out to build the tallest, most aggressive building in the United States of America. That is New York. It was America and that was certainly New York.
The question is where did that spirit go? Look at my generation, and I am older than most people in this room, what has my generation built? Our forebears did all these great things. But what did our generation do? We have not built a new bridge since 1964, the Verrazano Bridge. That was the last time we built a bridge in New York City, believe it or not. What happened? Well, you had public apathy. They did not believe that government had the competence to do it. Politicians got nervous because they did not think they had the competence to do it. They had a number of bad experiences. You had the Big Dig up in Massachusetts and construction was always slow, and it was always late, and there was always bad news. Government, frankly in many cases, was not good at doing it. You look at the MTA and how that has to be reformed to actually be competent, and how all of that added up. We just stopped that vision and boldness.
The problem is other places do not stop when you stop. Other countries around the world, other cities around the world, they keep building. They keep going. It is a competition. It is a race. If you are not building, someone else is going to build. They are building the greatest airports in the world and then you come to New York and land in LaGuardia Airport. Vice President Biden said it looked like a third world airport, and everybody said ‘how dare you say that about New York?’ Those are fighting words. I said ‘He is right. He is right. Admit the problem. Admit the reality.’ Yes, we stopped building we lost our mojo, and now we have to move forward. And that’s not just a New York story frankly, that is an American story. How many times have we heard a president in the United States say we have to build infrastructure? President Clinton, President Obama, President Bush, President Trump running for office, $1.5 trillion for infrastructure. President Trump two weeks ago, we have an agreement $2 trillion for infrastructure. You know how much I’ve seen for infrastructure from the federal government? Zero, nada, niente. I don’t care what the language – nothing. But we know what has to be done and what new York has always done is we have done it. Just move forward. We don’t wait for anyone. And New York is moving forward on construction.
You look at the projects we’re building – $150 billion more than any state in the United States of America. The most aggressive building agenda in the United States of America. New Kosciuszko Bridge. Congestion pricing, which is the first in the country. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was the largest infrastructure project in the United States of America, it was on the cover of the federal budget, $4 billion bridge, on time and on budget. We’re doubling the size of the Javits Center. We’re going to have a new LaGuardia Airport. The first new airport in the United States in 25 years, that’s going to be LaGuardia Airport. Long Island Rail Road, we are rebuilding it for the first time since its creation. New second track, new third track, 59 new stations. We’re actually going to get that East Side Access ,built after 50 years of talking about it we’re actually going to make it happen. We’re going to get the next extension of the Second Avenue Subway done. JFK Airport, yesterday we opened up the new TWA Airport Hotel, which is at the cusp of a $13 billion new airport for JFK.
So we are doing it and we’ll show the country the way to do it. Now the key to our development is going to be a regional mass transit system. That is how we are going to grow. You look at this metropolis, you can’t get any more people in, you can’t get any more cars in, you can’t put any more roads in. You need a mass transit system that connects, connects well and connects efficiency if we’re going to continue to grow. People have to be able to come in from the north, from the south, from Long Island and it has to happen in real time.
Today we’re talking about Penn Station, which was a beautiful architectural icon, one of the great railroad stations that evidenced an Italian design, not that I’m partial but that’s just a fact. But in 1963, the economics changed and it was demolished. Amtrak owns Penn Station, Long Island Rail Road leases part of Penn Station. And Penn Station, everybody would agree, is not fit for the greatest city in the nation. A great historian summed it up: ‘one entered the city like a god through the old Penn Station, now one scuttles in like a rat.’
Fortunately, right across the street is another architectural marvel, which is the James Farley Post Office. You look at that frontage, you look at those columns, it is as magnificent, from an architectural point of view, as anything we have. The idea was discussed for decades, well why don’t we turn that into a train station and use that facility, which is powerful, as a train station. They talked about it for years, they did press releases, but nothing happened. But now, something is happening, and something is happening fast.
First, structurally, functionally it makes sense. We are in Madison Square Garden, underneath where we are now sitting are train tracks. The train tracks run across the street to the west and run under the Farley Post Office building. So, that hall is also above the train tracks that we are above today, sitting where we’re sitting. On the north side of the concourse is what’s called the Long Island Rail Road concourse, which is leased from Amtrak. That concourse runs from the front of Penn all the way through Penn and all the way through the new Moynihan Train Hall. We’re going to expand the Long Island Rail Road concourse, expanding the width from 30 feet to 60 feet, and raising the height from seven feet to 18 feet.
The concourses in Penn, I liken them to the catacombs, you can feel claustrophobic when you’re down there especially when it’s crowded. Doubling the width, more than doubling the height so you open up the concourse itself. It’ll have a view of the tracks and the platforms below, it will have a first-class retail mezzanine, first-class restaurants, it’s going to be a world class train facility. It’s going to have significant entrance and access all around Penn, which is important for commuters on their way, it’s also important from a security point of view. This is a new world when it comes to homeland security and places of concentration, places of density, airports, train stations. You want to make sure you can get in and you can get out quickly, god forbid there’s a threat. And the density in Penn Station, we need to have more access for people to get in and people to get out. We have that on Moynihan Station and today we’re announcing that we’re going to add a new East End Gateway to the planned development which will be on the corner of the 7th Avenue and 33rd Street. So you can come in that entrance, you can avoid coming into the front of Penn, there will be less traffic. You can come down that East End Gateway you have access to the Long Island Rail Road. You also have access to the New York City subway system.
The entrance way will also create a public plaza on 33rd Street. It will be in the front of 33rd Street where it abuts 7th Avenue and that will create then a public permanent plaza around that area. Another public space, especially near a busy terminal for people who want to stay outside, meet outside and get some fresh air. 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. And we think we’ve designed what is a beautiful new entrance. Architecturally, it’s very powerful. It’s 40 feet high, it’s 65 feet deep, with a 32 foot overhang. It is all glass that is supported by steel cable and it is illuminated with different colors. Even more important, it opens up the entrance to the Long Island Rail Road concourse where it’s 38 feet wide, bringing in light into the Long Island Rail Road concourse and giving the concourse a sense of airiness and exposure to the light so people see the way out.
It is going to be beautiful and magnificent and it’s literally the first time you will have a illumination and light in that concourse in over 50 years. The concourse itself will be expanded to be 110 feet wide, 200 feet long. You’ll no longer have that crush of the density in these areas, there’ll be space for people to move around. At night it will look beautiful because it’s going to be illuminated with a number of colors and patterns and we think it will add to the architecture. It also fits perfectly with the architecture of Moynihan, which is going to be phenomenal. Moynihan, James Farley Post Office, the terminal is the old mail sorting room. What does that mean? It’s where they sorted the mail in the early 1900’s. For light, they had a phenomenal skylight to bring in the light so people could actually read the mail that they were sorting. We have restored that skylight and the skylight is literally the ceiling that covers the entire train terminal. It’s from the early 1900’s, steel joists, lattice, all restored. The skylight is restored. It is going to be magnificent. From the floor of the terminal to the skylight, it’s going to be over 90 feet, the skylight itself is 220 feet north to south, 160 feet east to west. It is going to be a marvel to see, just in and of itself, besides the terminal. It really is going to be magnificent.
Now, this is not a proposal. We are doing this. When we talked about why we don’t build anymore and where did the public lose confidence, it’s true. We’re building a new LaGuardia Airport. I must have announced that 10 times, ribbon cuttings, press releases, et cetera. I was talking to a fellow a few weeks ago and he said, ‘Did you see LaGuardia Airport?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’ve seen LaGuardia Airport.’ He said, ‘You know, they’re building a new LaGuardia Airport.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know that. I’ve said that about 10 times in the past three years.’ He says, ‘No, I know you’ve said it, but it’s actually happening.’ You know the lack of credibility of government, the concept that government could actually get something done and do something great, and do it on time, and do it on budget, people almost don’t believe it anymore. And, that’s why I am so aggressive in making sure government works and government delivers because if we fuel that public cynicism, then we’re lost. Then we’re lost.
But I believe the inverse is true. Once we show people that we can actually get something done, and government is competent and is not going to be overrun and it’s not a bunch of bureaucrats who don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s not six years to renovate Grand Central Terminal, you can actually make things happen. You will have the public support. And when they see Moynihan and they see this entrance, they’re going to say, wow. Because they will not have seen anything built like that probably in their lifetime. That’s what it’s going to be. This is not a proposal. All the approvals are done, the funding is done, we have the shovels. We are going to work. Moynihan is currently under construction, right across the street. The construction on this new entrance starts now. 2020, construction ends. Janno Lieber is here. Construction ends December 2020. Or Janno Lieber is not here. 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.
The funding is $270 million from the MTA, $980 million from the state, $630 million from private developers. After we open Moynihan we go to Step 2. Step 2 is then rebuilding, renewing Penn Station. And as I said, Penn is owned by Amtrak, but Amtrak has been a good partner to the city and the state of New York. We’re going to work together on what to do with Penn. How do you renovate it? How do you use it? Because you’ll now have a much larger facility. You’ll have the existing Penn and Moynihan across the street. Moynihan will have restaurants and shops, et cetera. How do you best use Penn Station? And that’s a process that we’re going to consult extensively with the community.
The basic point is: this piece is happening. And this piece is only a piece of the puzzle. It’s not that we’re just doing Penn and we’re doing an entrance. It is all connected. We’re rebuilding the Long Island Rail Road with new stations and new tracks. We’re going to get East Side Access done after 50 years of the MTA talking about it. It will come into a Grand Central Terminal that is rehabilitated. You’ll have a new Penn Station, four new stations in the Bronx, a new Javits Center that is two times the size, a new Koscuiuszko Bridge, congestion pricing to reduce congestion and actually fund mass transit. It all works together, and it is all happening and it is all happening now. And New York is going to show we haven’t lost our mojo. And we haven’t lost our spirit and we haven’t lost our drive and we haven’t lost our confidence and we’re not going to take no for an answer and we’re not going to deal with incompetence and apathy. We’re going to overcome. Because that’s what New York does and that’s what this nation needs now more than ever. To show what is possible. And there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And that has always been the New York way.
I want to thank all the people who worked on this. I want to thank Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Hoylman and Vikki Barbero for approving it. It’s not easy to get a government project approved in New York. Everyone has an opinion and every opinion is different. They really stepped up to the plate. They really made a difference. The contractors are killing themselves. We’re on this seven days a week. We’re going to meet this deadline and it is going to be beautiful. And this city and state will have something to be proud of once again. Thank you and God bless you.
SOURCE: New York State | Executive Chambers | Press Office