Environmental Review of $1.6B Penn Station Access Project Completed

Real Estate In-Depth | September 29, 2021

A map detailing the Penn Station Access project. SOURCE: MTA

NEW YORK—The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Sept. 27 that the environmental review process for the Metro-North Penn Station Access Project is complete.

The milestone makes four new stations in the Bronx as well as direct Metro-North service to Penn Station from the Bronx, Westchester, and Connecticut a step closer to reality. On Sept. 24, 2021, the Federal Transit Administration issued a formal Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), marking the conclusion of the environmental review.

“This is an important milestone for a project that will give people in several transit -deprived areas of the East Bronx with access to jobs, education, health care and everything New York and Connecticut have to offer,” said Acting MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “By making use of existing infrastructure, we are connecting people to these opportunities at a fraction of the cost it would take to build a new rail line. The next step is to award a contract to one team that will manage both the design and construction in a coordinated way to deliver the project on time and on budget.”

“This project will be game-changing for Metro-North,” said Catherine Rinaldi, president of MTA Metro-North Railroad. “In essentially one bold stroke it will allow the railroad to dramatically reduce travel times for a transit desert with a vast population of hundreds of thousands of people, and it will allow our busiest line to have a second destination in midtown Manhattan. We are already looking forward to opening day.”

The project will bolster equity, regional connectivity and resiliency by delivering a new transit option for residents and workers in the East Bronx with four new fully accessible Metro-North stations, at Co-Op City, Parkchester, Morris Park and Hunts Point. The advent of train service to these stations will support the local economy and attract regional talent by increasing accessibility to underserved neighborhoods, cutting commutes, and introducing reverse commuting opportunities, MTA officials stated.

The project will use Amtrak’s existing Hell Gate Line to access Penn Station, maximizing the potential of existing infrastructure, while minimizing impacts on the surrounding community. It will bring the Hell Gate Line into a state of good repair and improve resiliency and on-time performance for Amtrak passengers. The project also calls for the construction of new electrical substations, additional tracks within the existing line, work to renew bridges and upgrades to Metro-North’s New Rochelle Yard.

The MTA reported that procurement is underway to award a design-build contract to construct the Penn Access project which will dramatically reduce travel times for people traveling to or from the East Bronx. The project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion.

Federal, state and county officials were in agreement that the project will be transformative for the region.

“Today is a great day for the future of mass transit access in the South and East Bronx and the Westchester Sound communities,” said U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “The FTA has completed its environmental review of the Penn Access project, a critical step for MTA to advance to construction of the project connecting Metro-North with Penn Station, including new mass transit stops in the South and East Bronx—and direct connection to Penn Station for parts of Westchester. I will continue to advocate for advancing this project and will push for federal grants key to its completion.”

“As New Yorkers get back to work and we rebuild our economy, we must expand critical access to safe and affordable public transportation for everyone,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I am pleased to see this project move forward—it puts us one step closer to reducing travel times for countless Bronxites who rely on Metro-North to get where they need to go.”

“The completion of the environmental review is a great step forward for the Metro-North Penn Station Access Project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “For nearly a decade, I have been beating the drum on direct access to Penn Station from The Bronx, and now, this form of transportation in The East Bronx is one step closer to becoming a reality.”

“The completion of the environmental review for Metro-North Penn Station Access means we are one step closer towards completing a project that will be life changing for Westchester’s residents who live along the Sound Shore and commute to the Bronx or parts of Manhattan for work,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “For the first time ever we will be able to create a one-seat ride into Penn Station, opening up greater access to jobs, education and health care, all while improving the commute and making these communities more desirable to live in. I thank the MTA and for their hard work on this – we cannot wait to see this project come to fruition.”