On the west side of the Hudson River, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the Feds are still fighting over the $271 million New Jersey owes for canceling the ARC Tunnel, but here on the east side, the MTA is eying grander plans for Penn Station. As Andrew Grossman in the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, now that the LIRR isn’t required to make accommodations for ARC construction, the rail road wants to invest in improving Penn Station. “It’s a facility that’s showing its age,” LIRR President Helena Williams said. “It’s cluttered visually, functionally.”
According to Grossman, the LIRR has a list of improvements it wants to make. Some are easier to implement than others while some would require long-term disruptions. They include “better signage, improved passenger flow, higher ceilings and natural light.” Signage has, as I wrote in March, long been a challenge for the MTA.
For now, because improvements to Penn Station require New Jersey Transit and LIRR to be, as Grossman put it, “on the same page as Amtrak, the station’s owner,” change might be slow in coming. Amtrak is focusing on getting the Moynihan Station project off the ground, and Republicans in Congress are eying the national rail network’s funding with a raised eye brow or two. Still, a redesigned and re-signed Penn Station would go a long way toward improving passenger flow at this busy commuter hub.