Opinion | New York, Scrap the New Penn Station Plan

To the Editor:

Re “A Plan to Rebuild Penn Station Would Start With 10 New Skyscrapers” (news article, May 6):

The plan for the Penn Station neighborhood that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Development Corporation is pushing is bad indeed. It demolishes several fine urban blocks, barely improves train service and leaves Penn Station in the basement of Madison Square Garden.

We wonder why the planners have not done a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the most promising alternative: a regional unified train system. The regional option is based on trains that stop at Penn Station on their way west rather than ending there.

Building this cost-effective option would create a powerful engine of economic growth for the entire tristate region. It would be the kind of growth that spreads the benefits of prosperity to all rather than concentrates it in the hands of the skyscraper-owning elite.

Moreover, this option would avoid demolition of historic buildings and the displacement of residents in what is now a thriving neighborhood.

Instead of leading the way on such a regional network option, railroad management defers to a thin 2014 Amtrak study. That study reads like the outline of a college paper rather than an actual study, although concluding that a regional system is “technically feasible.”

There is a solution. State legislators could lead the way by requiring the Empire State Development Corporation to spend money on an independent cost-benefit analysis of a full regional network, with willingness to override a possible Cuomo veto. And shelve the current proposal.

Federal money for transport projects is a new factor to consider and should make our politicians eager to lead.

Lynn Ellsworth
New York
The writer is coordinator of the Empire Station Coalition.

To the Editor:

Sixty years after the premature demolition of the magnificent McKim, Mead & White Pennsylvania Station, and its unfortunate replacement by a new Madison Square Garden and a miserable underground labyrinth station, we are confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

With the old Grand Central Terminal having been preserved, and large mega-towers proposed all around, a new free-standing Penn Station can be envisioned following suit as a much in-demand new transit hub.

Instead of a miserable below-ground station, we have the opportunity to make up for the sins of demolishing the magnificent old one, with a brilliant new 21st-century design, set apart from the office towers proposed by the governor’s plan, much like the Grand Central Terminal of today.

Peter Samton
New York
The writer is an architect.

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