Governor Cathy Hochhol on Sunday vowed to take action to fix the “scary” Penn station during a tour of the long-delayed and significantly over-budgeted “East Side Access” station.
Speaking to reporters after a “test ride” on the Long Island Rail Road to the new station — due to open late next year — Hochul seemed to have likened Manhattan’s only current railroad station to a haunted house.
“It looks like a real hoax when you have to go to that Pennsylvania station!” The governor explained. “You have to make your way through the dark areas. Ah, it’s like setting up Halloween. Scary! And a place you wouldn’t want to be longer than possible.”
Hochhol said she wouldn’t wait until a new tunnel under the Hudson River was completed to renovate Pennsylvania.
“Ben’s station itself needs to be rebuilt,” she said. “And I won’t wait until 2035 for the tunnel to be completed to start talking about the Penn Station experiment, which is a substandard one.”
Shame on the previous government. Andrew Cuomo had been pushing for a massive renovation of the station and redevelopment of the surrounding area before his resignation in August. Hochhol did not say whether she would pursue the same proposal.
The $11 billion East Side Access Terminal is expected to serve 150,000 passengers per day when it opens in December 2022, according to officials.
Located 150 feet underground, the facility will increase LIRR capacity by 45 percent, and allow Metro North to operate trains in and out of Penn Station, Hochhol said.
The MTA began building on East Side Access in 2007, four years before Cuomo became governor. The project was initially expected to cost $2.2 billion – a fifth of its final price.
In 2017, the New York Times called the project “the most expensive metro mile on Earth” – reported MTAs once discovered that 200 of the 900 people assigned to work on a single project had no job responsibilities.
MTA Chairman Jano Lieber said the transport authority is committed to getting the station ready and operational next year.
“Now we are at the stage of not only getting 29 separate systems and 20,000 machines, which is a complex technology for a modern facility in order. That is the work that really still needs to be done,” Lieber said. At the LIRR who will be operating the trains here, maintaining the systems, and making sure they are safe.”