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Moynihan Station, Penn Station and the Future of Infrastructure in New York City

farley post office moynihan station front

This past week, there has been a sharp spike in the media attention given to the Moynihan Station development project.  It began with an article written by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic at The New York Times, arguing that the planned redevelopment of the Javits Convention Center provided an opportunity for Madison Square Garden to be relocated to the southern end of that site, near 34th Street and 11th Avenue.

Moving MSG, which sits on top of Penn Station, would then free up the necessary room to rebuild Penn Station into a world class train station.  From Kimmelman’s perspective, improving Penn Station – which serves NJ Transit, LIRR, Amtrak and New York City Transit – would have a greater impact for commuters and visitors to New York City than would the transformation of the Farley Post Office into a new Moynihan Station – a station which is designed to primarily serve Amtrak.

For more than 15 years, MAS, along with the Friends of Moynihan Station, a broad coalition of leading civic and business groups, has advocated for a new train station in the Farley Post Office.  MAS believes that the creation of Moynihan Station should be at the center of city and state efforts to develop a new commercial district on the Far West Side of Manhattan.  By providing access to Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit trains at a location farther west, Moynihan Station will alleviate pedestrian traffic in and around Penn Station, while also helping to spur development in the Far West Side.  In addition, if high speed rail is to have a future along the Northeast corridor, Amtrak needs a new home in Moynihan.  Clearing out the portion of Penn Station devoted to Amtrak, would free up critical space for expanding and improving Penn Station.

MAS believes that the Mr. Kimmelman is right: we need to re-double our efforts to turn Moynihan Station and Penn Station into world class train stations and we need to be looking at creative approaches, including closing off West 33rd Street to auto traffic between 7th & 8th Avenues to relieve congestion and to improve circulation in and around Penn Station.

For years, the many stakeholders involved in this project have unsuccessfully tried to convince Madison Square Garden to move off the Penn Station site to make way for the kind of station New York deserves.  The reality is MSG is not moving, and in fact they have almost completed a renovation of the existing arena estimated to cost approximately $800 million dollars.  The current plan recognizes that MSG is staying put and breaks down the Moynihan Station project into smaller phases to actually get the project moving forward.

In an era of budget deficits, Moynihan is a very difficult challenge and often not well aligned with the economic or election cycle.  Nonetheless, it’s all the more important that we continue to champion a project that will transform the West Side of Manhattan and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every day.