Monday, May 15, 2017

How to fix Penn Station? Build a transit hub in Queens

Rendering by ReThink of the proposed station and park.
Joe Anuta reports for Crain's New York Business:

A Manhattan think tank is pushing a plan to end the misery of Penn Station commuters, who are having an especially horrid month, by recasting the West 34th Street hub as just another stop for New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, rather than the terminus for both. Having trains pass through the station instead of stopping and turning around, which results in a daily traffic nightmare, would also open up possibilities beyond alleviating congestion.

Part of the idea, named ReThinkNYC, calls for moving rail yards in Sunnyside, Queens, to the Bronx. That way a major new transit hub could be built on the Queens site, connecting the region’s commuter lines and the subway system for a fraction of the cost of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build a deck over Sunnyside Yards. With that kind of transit access, a business district could sprout up around the station, taking advantage of a 280-acre blank canvas across the East River from the most expensive office towers in the city.

“It should be part of the region’s central business district,” said Lane Rick, a principal at ReThink Studio, the group behind the idea. “It should be [like] a Midtown East.”

ReThink Studio also envisions green space akin to Central Park, but much smaller, where the rail yard currently sits. The plan is ambitious but not impossible. Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road already run through Sunnyside but don’t stop there. Adding the station, along with others in the Bronx and New Jersey, could be done in conjunction with the planned Gateway tunnel project beneath the Hudson River without raising the $25 billion price tag. The park and the commercial center could be absorbed into the current Sunnyside Yards effort.

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