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Question via Facebook: What’s up with Moynihan Station?

penn stationRecently, we were asked the following question on our Facebook pageWith all the talk about President Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package and its billions of dollars for public works projects, what’s happening with the Moynihan Station project?MAS remains a strong supporter of Moynihan Station. The project will increase capacity at the over-crowded (and miserable) Penn Station, which is the nation’s busiest transportation hub, with nearly half a million people passing through it every day. We don’t know whether the project will receive money from President Obama’s stimulus package, but it certainly seems to be eligible. Plans for Moynihan Station have been in the works for more than a decade. Senator Moynihan’s original conception was to convert the Farley General Post office, which sits over the same tracks as Penn Station, into a new train hall that would expand the capacity of Penn Station and create a great civic train station and dignified entry into New York. Several years ago the scope of the plans expanded dramatically, to build a new Madison Square Garden in the west end of the Post Office, demolish the current Garden and construct a retail complex with an upgraded Penn Station underneath. Last winter, Madison Square Garden announced it was pulling out of the project and instead renovating their arena. rendering moynihan station by SOM 1999With Madison Square Garden out, some thought the project would need to go back to the drawing board. In fact, the original Moynihan Station plans (left) have already gone through the environmental review process and have partial Congressional funding, so work could start in the Farley Post Office in the near future. Building Farley first ensures that the public will get a great civic space, without concern that the private development will impede on the public train station spaces. Building the station would be in keeping with President Obama’s goal to improve the nation’s infrastructure. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the President signed will deliver $48 billion in funding for transportation capital projects nationwide ($8.4 billion for mass transit, $27.5 billion for highways and bridges, $9.3 billion for rail, $1.3 billion for airport improvement projects; $1.5 billion for discretionary surface transportation projects). New York State will receive a minimum of $24.6 billion in stimulus cash this year and next with at least $1.25 billion dedicated for mass transit and $1.1 billion for highways and bridges. Governor Paterson created the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet, which will be led by Timothy J. Gilchrist, the Senior Advisor for Infrastructure and Transportation, to manage the development of State and local infrastructure projects financed through these federal funds. In economic downturns in the past, New York State has moved ahead with infrastructure projects to provide jobs and invest in our future. The state was facing a deficit for seven of the ten years it took to construct the Erie Canal and the Lincoln Tunnel, George Washington Bridge and the Independent Subway System (IND) were all constructed during the Depression. Work on Moynihan Station can and should start soon, providing jobs and an investment in New York City’s future.