MTA Awards Contract for Nearly $3B Metro-North Penn Station Access Project
John Jordan | December 16, 2021
NEW YORK—The Penn Station Access Project, which has been widely supported by politicians and business interests in the Bronx and Westchester has reached a critical stage—the award of a contract to undertake the work that will provide direct Metro-North service from the Bronx, Westchester and Connecticut to Penn Station and Manhattan’s west side.
Penn Station Access will, when completed, drastically reduce travel times for people who live and work in the East Bronx, an area currently without any rail service. The current project construction schedule is estimated at 63 months and $2.87 billion. It is estimated the project will create or retain approximately 4,500 direct jobs and another 10,000 indirect jobs.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Dec. 15 that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had approved a design-build contract for the Penn Station Access Project to Halmar International, LLC/RailWorks, J.V.
“Metro-North is coming to the east Bronx, and bringing faster commutes with it,” said Governor Hochul. “This one project by itself is a big step forward for environmental justice, environmentally sustainable transportation, the Bronx economy and regional interconnectivity, and yet another example of our ongoing efforts to make sure that all New Yorkers have the modernized transportation systems they deserve.”
Janno Lieber, MTA Acting Chair and CEO said, “This is a great news for the Bronx and the region. With four new ADA-accessible stations in Co-Op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest and Hunts Point, Penn Station Access will deliver access to jobs, education and opportunity for those underserved neighborhoods, cutting commutes to the Manhattan Central Business District, but also introducing reverse commuting opportunities.”
There are almost 250,000 residents and more than 100,000 jobs within a half mile of the four stations, which can have service as frequent as every 20 minutes in the peak period. The new service will save East Bronx riders up to approximately 50 minutes in each direction to Penn Station, and up to 75 minutes in each direction to Connecticut. Current New Haven Line riders with destinations on the west side will save up to 40 minutes per day since travel from Grand Central will not be necessary.
Catherine Rinaldi, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad said, “Access to Penn Station is completely transformative for Metro-North and we are excited to begin the service upon completion of the project. This will be the railroad’s largest expansion in history – four new stations is no small thing. This gives Metro-North’s busiest line a second route into Manhattan for the first time, redundancy that’s all the more important as the railroad looks to pursue major capital renewal projects on the route to Grand Central – namely the Park Avenue Viaduct and the Park Avenue Tunnel.”
The project will improve regional transportation connectivity, enhance network resiliency by providing a second Metro-North terminal in Manhattan, promote sustainability and bridge communities. By using Amtrak’s existing Hell Gate Line, the project will maximize the potential of existing infrastructure, while minimizing impacts on the community.
It will also bring the Hell Gate Line into a state of good repair and improve reliability and on-time performance for intercity passengers and prepare the corridor for high speed rail in the future. Amtrak will contribute $500 million toward the project, thanks to the efforts of Majority Leader Schumer. Amtrak has also agreed to pay the costs of delay if they fail to meet commitments to provide outages or workforce.
U.S Senator Chuck Schumer said, “This week, I was proud to announce a deal that I brokered between Amtrak and MTA to advance two projects critical to the future of transit in New York: Metro-North Penn Access and the East River Tunnel rehabilitation project. Today, MTA’s Board ratified that deal and awarded a contract for construction of Penn Access. This is a watershed moment for transit-starved communities in the East and South Bronx – and the Sound Shore communities of Westchester – as it will connect these communities with quick, reliable, one-seat commuter rail service into Midtown Manhattan and job centers in Westchester and Connecticut. I applaud the MTA Board for awarding the contract and look forward to continuing to push both projects as priorities for USDOT grants.”
Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr. said, “This is welcoming news and a tremendous step forward for the residents of The Bronx. For about a decade, I have been beating the drum on direct access to Penn Station from The Bronx, and now, this game-changing project is even closer to becoming a reality. Penn Station Access will help countless Bronxites with more efficient commutes, which will also open up job possibilities, while reducing congestion on our roads. I want to thank Janno Lieber, MTA Acting Chair and CEO and the entire MTA team for moving this project forward.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “This vital step in the Penn Station Access project’s timeline is a win for Westchester’s residents who live along the Sound Shore. The creation a one-seat ride into Penn Station, opening up greater access to jobs, education and health care for the first time ever, will improve commutes and raise Westchester home values in the process. I am appreciative of the efforts of MTA and all stakeholders on this project and we cannot wait to see it come to fruition.”
Council Member and Bronx Borough President-elect Vanessa L. Gibson said, “The East Bronx has for a long time been at a disadvantage when it comes to transportation access, but this new plan put forth by the MTA and funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will help reduce the transit divide in our borough. The Metro-North expansion in the Bronx will also be a game changer with economic development opportunities and infrastructure investments that are sorely needed as we attempt to recover from the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our borough. I want to thank MTA, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, the New York Congressional Delegation, and all of our transit advocates for their support of this initiative and transit equity for all New Yorkers.”
In addition to the four new stations, the project will turn the existing two-track railroad into a largely four-track railroad, with over 19 miles of new and rehabilitated track work. The project also includes four bridge rehabilitations, the reconfiguration of Metro-North’s New Rochelle Yard, four new and one reconfigured interlockings, five new and two upgraded substations, and the modernization of signal, power and communication infrastructure.