The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s recently announced new $10 billion Penn Station Reconstruction Master Plan missed other critical issues that are a higher priority for commuters.
The project fails to add any new track or platform capacity for Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Rail Road or future Metro North Rail Road service. It does nothing to deal with periodic service disruptions due to storm and signal problems in the East River Tunnels. These problems periodically also occur between the Tunnel Portals and Harold Interlockings west of the Woodside Station.
It does not resolve approval of a specific implementation plan with Amtrak to fix critical East River tunnel damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Any new funding would be better spent reopening the old Hilton Passageway,also known as the Gimbels Corridor (indoor connection from Penn Station to the Herald Square subway ramp; PATH complex) along with long overdue repairs to the Portal Bridge, East River and Hudson River Tunnels. Improvements supporting safety and reliability of service should come first.
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.