Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Cuomo’

Penn Station Expansion Plan Announced

January 6, 2020

New York Penn Station would be expanded under a plan announced on Monday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a speech in New York, Cuomo said the expansion will occur on building and land situated on a block adjacent to the station.

The expansion would create a new eight track terminal annex with additional tracks that will result in an increased capacity of 175,000 passengers per day.

If implemented, it would be the first expansion of the Penn Station infrastructure footprint since 1910 when the station was completed.

The expansion will occur south of the current station complex, which includes the Moynihan Train Hall that is expected to open late this year in the Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue.

The design of the expansion will be a collaborative effort among New York State, Amtrak, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and others.

Urban planning consultant FXCollaborative will develop and execute the plan at the station, which is owned by Amtrak.

Cuomo’s plan calls for the Empire State Development Corporation to use eminent domain to acquire property between 30th and 31st streets. and Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Some of that property is already owned by Amtrak while the archdiocese of New York owns some parcels. The 22 pieces of property are currently being used for residential use, offices and community facilities.

This would allow construction of eight additional tracks to supplement the 21 tracks currently used at the station.

The plan would also create six entrances to the 125,000-square foot new terminal to be known as the Empire Station Complex.

State officials are also eyeing the acquisition of the Theater at Madison Square Garden and transforming it into a new entrance on Eighth Avenue in a bid to bring more light into Penn Station.

The framework that Cuomo outlined has been discussed before, including by Amtrak as part of its Gateway plan to build two new tunnels beneath the Hudson River.

“The entire old Penn has to be redone,” Cuomo said. “You can’t do that until you have the additional tracks and additional capacity.”

Penn Station is used by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.

 

New York State to Take Another Stab at High-Speed Rail

December 28, 2019

New York State will try another tactic toward implement a high-speed rail service on the Empire Corridor used by Amtrak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will appoint a panel of engineers to review past high-speed rail plans and recommend a new plan for how to build high-speed rail New York-Albany-Buffalo route.

A statement released by the governor’s office said most of the state’s population lives near the Empire Corridor and the average speed of passenger trains on the route is 51 mph.

Various administrations have sought without success over the past two decades to implement high-speed rail service plans but have been stymied by, among other things, high cost.

Previous proposals have also indicated that it would take decades to create a high-speed line to Buffalo.

Cuomo’s statement said the news panel will “reexamine and rethink strategies to bring high speed rail to New York.”

The Empire Corridor hosts Amtrak trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, but also sees the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

RPA Challenges Some of Cuomo’s Gateway Assertions

December 5, 2018

The Rail Passengers Association has taken issue with some assertions made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding his idea to revise the Gateway Project in an effort to win support of the Trump administration.

RPA said Cuomo appears to be confused about some basic facts about the project and is glossing over some obstacles to his plan.

This includes a suggestion that the Trump administration could bypass the environmental review process for a proposed new tunnel under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan.

The review is well underway, RPA noted and is being led by New Jersey Transit and the Federal Railroad Administration.

It is waiting on the FRA to provide a final EIS and Record of Decision.

RPA also took issue with Cuomo’s suggestion that another entity be established to oversee the project with Amtrak being removed from the oversight process.

Noting that such an entity already exists in the form of the Gateway Program Development Corporation, RPA notes that the chair of the three-person GPDC board rotates among representatives from New York, New Jersey and Amtrak.

The state members, though, have the greatest say in overseeing the organization.

RPA said Cuomo’s questioning of a $13 billion estimate by Amtrak of the cost of boring and constructing the new tunnel failed to mention that this included the cost of the two new tunnels, as well as rehabilitation and modernization of the existing tunnels.

Also left unclear, RPA said, is whether removing Amtrak from a project management role would involve seizing Amtrak-owned right of way.

RPA said that although While Amtrak might be willing to relinquish control of the project to New York and New Jersey interest, the carrier is likely to resist any takings of its rights of way in New Jersey and Manhattan.

RPA CEO Jim Mathews said his group is pleased to see Cuomo inject a sense of urgency and provide new leadership for Gateway, but called for it to be based on a clear and accurate communication of facts to the public, and a transparent process for moving the project forward.

“We have clashed with Amtrak during the past year over its failure to communicate openly with its customers on the most difficult questions facing the network. This is a chance for all parties involved to do better,” Mathews said.

RPA said Cuomo is correct in suggesting that the Hudson River tunnels project is too big for New York and New Jersey to oversee on their own. The project will need federal funding to move forward.

Cuomo, Trump Meet to Discuss Gateway Project

November 29, 2018

The proposed Gateway Project in New York City may be getting a makeover following a meeting on Wednesday between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump.

Cuomo met with Trump to seek federal funding for construction of new tunnels under the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey that are used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

In a news conference following the meeting, Cuomo said Trump appears amendable to separating the tunnel component of Gateway from other proposed infrastructure improvements to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

The Trump administration has been loath to commit to providing a significant level of federal funding for the $30 billion Gateway project, calling it primarily a local project.

New York and New Jersey officials have in turn pointed to a commitment by the federal government to fund half of Gateway made by the Obama administration.

But the Trump administration has claimed there was no such agreement. It also has rejected an application from New York and New Jersey for a federal loan to pay for Gateway.

Some observers believe that Trump is using funding for Gateway as a bargaining chip to get other things from Congress, including funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Cuomo said the stalemate can be broken by “breaking the tunnel away from Gateway,” removing Amtrak’s representative from overseeing the Gateway Project Development Corporation, replacing Amtrak’s rep with a federal representative and immediately putting the project out to bid.

The latter would occur without completing an environmental impact study or having federal funding in place.

Amtrak has estimated that the cost of building the tunnel at $13 billion.

“I’m not signing the check on an Amtrak estimate. And the president’s not signing a check based on an Amtrak estimate. So we need real bids,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo described his meeting with Trump as positive and all good.

The New York Democrat has been a frequent Amtrak critic, particularly in 2017 when the passenger carrier launched a series of emergency repairs at New York’s Penn Station.

The Gateway Project dates to 2011 and calls for a new Portal Bridge and replacement of track in New Jersey.

Cuomo said building new tunnels should have a higher priority that those projects, saying the tunnels sustained severe damage from super storm Sandy in 2012.

“I’m focused on the tunnels, number one from a safety point of view, number two, if we lose one of those tunnels, lose use of the tunnel, it will have a devastating impact,” he said, noting that the failure of the current link would cut off New York and Boston from points south, and impact a fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product. “You’re talking about economic catastrophic circumstances if these tunnels fail.”

Gov. Pledges Funds for New Schenectady Depot

January 12, 2017

New Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed spending $15 million to build a new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

The funding was mentioned in his State of the State speech given this week.

Amtrak 3Amtrak currently uses a depot on Erie Boulevard. Cuomo cited the Schenectady station project while discussing plans to upgrade transportation hubs across the state.

It is not clear how much new state money will be spent on the new station. Some federal and local funding is also expected to go into the project.

The New York Department of Transportation has budgeted $15 million for the station, but that includes some federal funding that may no longer be available.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the state is expected to kick in some additional money in order to get the project going and the station open by 2018.

“Anybody that’s gone through that station, it’s an embarrassment,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t reflect the quality of the community we’re building. We’re doing demolitions in the neighborhoods, working on home ownership, getting the casino online, and that train station is just an embarrassment.”

In March 2016, NYDOT sought bids for a new station, but received just one response. That bid was $10 million over budget, so the state scrapped its plans.

Instead, it decided to split the work into two projects, one involving razing the 1970s era that Amtrak built and now uses and another to build a replacement station.

The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, New York-Toronto Maple Leaf, the New York-Montreal Adirondack, the New York-Rutland (Vermont) Ethan Allen Express and four New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains serve Schenectady, which handled 61,000 passengers last year.

Amtrak and the NYDOT are building a second track between Schenectady and Albany-Rensselaer to alleviate rail traffic congestion on the route. That track is expected to be completed this spring.