June 12, 2017 5:20 PM, EDT

New York Speeds Up Road Projects Ahead of Penn Station Work

Cuomo says work will be done to prepare for ‘summer of hell’
John Taggart/Bloomberg News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is accelerating construction on New York bridges and tunnels so the work is complete before Amtrak begins emergency repairs at Pennsylvania Station in July.

The order will ensure that all major commuter crossings can be used without cash and all lanes will be open during the work at North America’s busiest rail terminal, Cuomo said June 12 in a statement. Major tunnel and bridge projects will be complete by July 8, he said.

“We’re taking every conceivable step to prepare for Amtrak’s summer of hell,” Cuomo said.

Amtrak stepped up maintenance at its Penn Station, which it shares with New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, after two derailments in March and April. To accommodate its work, Amtrak plans to require modified schedules from July 10 to Sept. 1.

The repairs are projected to reduce trains at Penn Station by about 20% during peak travel times. Commuters searching for alternative ways to reach Manhattan “will crush an already overburdened subway system and clog roads and bridges,” Cuomo said in the statement.

Patchwork System

Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects that will be accelerated include a new bus and high-occupancy-vehicle lane on the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, construction on the north tube of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, reconstruction of the Queens-to-Manhattan ramp at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and work at the Brooklyn Plaza of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

The MTA’s Long Island Rail Road plans to add train cars and new bus and ferry routes during Amtrak’s repairs. About 9,600 of LIRR’s 88,000 riders each way will be affected by the changes, MTA Acting Executive Director Veronique Hakim told reporters June 12.

The authority will add 200 buses from eight park-and-ride lots in Long Island and a ferry between Glen Cove, Long Island, and East 34th Street in Manhattan. Three trains will be canceled between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., Hakim said.

"Our focus and priority has been multifaceted," she said.

New Jersey Transit’s plan calls for most of the Midtown Direct trains on the Morris-Essex line to be diverted to Hoboken. Commuters will then have to switch to PATH trains, buses or ferries to reach New York. That plan “maintains the travel pattern for 75% of our customers,” Steve Santoro, the executive director, said in an online message to customers.