Bronx Borough President, Westchester County Executive and MTA Update Status of Penn Access Project

John Jordan | October 2019

NEW YORK—Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted the inaugural meeting of the Penn Station Access Bronx & Westchester Community Council at Mercy College’s Bronx Campus on Sept. 27th next to the planned site of a future new Metro-North Railroad Station.

Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer and President at MTA Capital Construction, gave an overview of the Penn Station Access project at the meeting.

Through this project, commuters from the East Bronx will be able to have a one-seat ride directly into Penn Station and Manhattan’s West Side, as well as to Westchester County and Connecticut. The Penn Station Access project will open a new Metro-North Railroad link with four new stations in the East Bronx at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest, and Hunts Point. This project will expand transit options for communities that currently exist in transit deserts and provide residents with better access to job centers, schools, and medical facilities, the MTA stated. Members of the Community Council will educate their constituents and neighbors on the importance of this project to the entire region.


From left, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

“This is about cooperation on a project that will be both good for the Bronx and good for Westchester County. I am pleased to be working with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as this project is a win/win for both of us. We want to keep the community involved and informed every step of the way because access to Penn Station is advantageous for those who live in Westchester along the Sound Shore and need to commute to the Bronx or parts of Manhattan for work. This project also makes these communities even more attractive to live in and will raise property values in the process,” said Westchester County Executive Latimer.

“I am thrilled to partner with Westchester County Executive George Latimer on the creation of the Penn Station Access Bronx Westchester Community Council. There are so many direct and indirect benefits to Penn Station Access. What this community council will ensure is that we are hearing from everyone. We want to hear the concerns and the questions of the businesses, the major organizations, and especially the residents and commuters who will be served by this expansion. This council will ensure we can do just that,” said Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr.

Participating in the roundtable were representatives from civic and community organizations in addition to local businesses based in the East Bronx and Westchester including from:

Westchester County

Dr. Marsha Gordon, Business Council of Westchester
William Mooney, Westchester County Association
Mayor Noam Bramson, City of New Rochelle
Mayor Paul Rosenberg, Village of Rye Brook
Janet DeMasi, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, Larchmont Summit
Louise Bryant, Financial Spyglass, Rye
Desmond Emanuel, New Rochelle resident
Gloria Welcome, Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce Board

The Bronx

Bronx Community Board #2
Bronx Community Board #9
Bronx Community Board #10
Bronx Community Board #11
Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
Montefiore Medical Center
NYC Health and Hospitals/Jacobi
Hutchinson Metro Center
Morris Park Business Improvement District
Parkchester Preservation Management

The Route

According to the MTA project website, upon completion, the Penn Station Access project will facilitate trains heading to Penn Station will leave the New Haven Line just west of New Rochelle and travel through the Eastern Bronx and Queens via Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line. The trains will continue through the existing East River Tunnels, joining Long Island Rail Road trains heading into Penn Station.

Timeframe

Metro-North service to Penn Station will begin after completion of the East River Tunnel rehabilitation and the MTA’s East Side Access Project, which will provide direct LIRR service to Grand Central Terminal, making slots available at Penn Station for Metro-North trains.

Infrastructure

The 15-mile-long project within the existing Amtrak right-of-way includes four new stations and six miles of new rail upgrades.

Project alignment will stretch from southeastern Westchester County—where New Haven Line trains will divert onto Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line at Shell Interlocking—extending to the Harold Interlocking in Queens to join the Long Island Rail Road mainline.

Penn Access will be linked to the Metro North main line via three new—and one reconstructed – interlockings.

Major infrastructure elements include upgraded signaling systems, traction power, catenary system, third rail and power substations. Four bridges will be rehabilitated as part of the project.

Project Update

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced in January 2019 that an agreement was reached among the MTA, Amtrak and Empire State Development that will allow this transformative project to move forward.

The General Engineering contract was awarded to HNTB New York Engineering & Architecture, P.C. in February 2019, enabling the project team to begin preliminary engineering and design work.

The federal environmental review process is under way and the draft Environmental Assessment will be made available for public comment in the first quarter of 2020.

The MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program contains the initial investment of $695 million towards the project, including $250 million in state resources that will be provided through ESD. The MTA is seeking additional funding for the project in the 2020-2024 Capital Program to complete the project.

The MTA has targeted $4.7 billion in capital funding for Metro-North Railroad. The proposed capital program advances New Haven Line access to Penn Station via four new stations in the Bronx, begins reconstruction of the Grand Central Terminal train shed and Park Avenue tunnel and viaduct, begins replacement of Metro-North’s fleet of M3 rail cars, improves stations, prepares for capacity improvements on the Harlem Line and Port Jervis Line.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth