There are a number of significant issues missing from Governor Andrew Cuomo's recent announcement of the $1.6 billion for improvements to Penn Station.
What are the specific funding sources for the $425 million in Amtrak, LIRR, Port Authority and federal government contributions toward the $1.6 billion cost?
Meanwhile, the Empire State Development Corporation is counting on the sale of air rights over the Farley Building as the source for its $570 million contribution. Suppose the sale generates less than anticipated, how would they make up the shortfall?
What is the $1.6 billion cost estimate based on? Has any preliminary or final design been completed? This is necessary to validate any engineers cost estimate prior to bidding out any construction contracts.
The project still fails to add any new track or platform capacity for Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, LIRR or future Metro North service.
Creation of a new station, ticket office and renovated platforms below the Farley Building between 8th and 9th avenues sounds great on paper, but it will only benefit a minority of LIRR riders whose destinations are west of 8th Avenue or utilize the A, C and E subways.
An overwhelming majority of riders exit to destinations east of 7th Avenue. LIRR trains arriving and departing from platform space farther west in Penn Station will result in longer walks for a majority of riders coming east of 7th Avenue.
Also missing is a key low cost option that could benefit tens of thousands of riders. Until the 1970s, both LIRR and New Jersey Transit riders exiting east at Penn Station had a direct underground passageway known as the Hilton Corridor, providing a simple indoor connection to Herald Square.
It could be rebuilt in several years for $150 million versus $10.8 billion for LIRR access to Grand Central Terminal.