Governor Cuomo has been absolutely killing it lately. Recently, he announced his "Get on Your Feet," program, in which New York State will cover the student debt of recent New York college graduates for two years.
Then, on Wednesday, he announced his plans to improve the abysmal black hole that passes as Penn Station.
So, on our list of people we're fond of at the moment, Governor Andrew Cuomo ranks pretty high.
Why are we so excited that someone's finally acknowledging the situation at Penn Station? Easy. Penn Station is the armpit of the city, only possibly trumped in bleakness by Port Authority.
If you ask any New Yorker which they hate more, Port Authority or Penn Station, their response will usually be contingent upon which hub they've spent more time in, and they're likely to hate that hub more.
On any given day, more than 600,000 commuters and travelers move through Penn Station. Having them all hate it is, obviously, a problem.
So if Cuomo gets his way, that'll all change. At least in Penn Station's case.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo doesn't just plan to revamp Penn Station, one of the busiest transportation hubs in the Western Hemisphere. He also wants to build an adjunct train and retail hub across Eighth Avenue.
Cuomo announced all this in a news conference in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Governor asked New Yorkers to "think big," in terms of ambition and audacity.
Cuomo's "big" plans include adding a third track to the LIRR's Main Line. He also proposed spending $22 billion to improve roads and bridges upstate.
At Penn Station, he wants to build new air and rail terminals, new transit systems, and a much needed revamp of the Hudson River rail tunnel. In fact, Cuomo said his plans for the overhaul of the Hudson River Tunnel would be "the biggest construction program in our state's history."
"What happens tomorrow depends on what we do today. Let's be as bold and ambitious as our forefathers before us," said Cuomo.
The project would involve both sides of Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets. Cuomo said the state, in tandem with Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, would solicit proposals from developers.
One of the options from developers would include a gorgeous creation of a glass-walled entrance to Penn Station on Eighth Avenue.
It would also include razing the theater beneath Madison Square Garden, upgrading the shops in the complex, and adding new entrances on Seventh Avenue or 33rd Street.
Cuomo said any developer that would undertake the project would have the rights to control all the retail shops in Penn Station.
We hope whichever developer does take on the project is subjected to considerably less stress than Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the one who designed the World Trade Center's Oculus. He described his time describing that hub wearily.
"It has not been easy for me. I have been treated like a dog," Calatrava said, regarding his time building Oculus.
Cuomo said the state also plans to turn the nearly vacant James A. Farley Post Office into a train station and giant waiting room for Amtrak passengers, as well as office space and shops.
"We wanted people to know we're looking for an aggressive, ambitious design," Cuomo said, regarding the conference. "This will get done."
Governor Cuomo is referring to the restoration of Penn Station as the Empire Station Complex. He'll unveil his financial plans for undertaking the project at next week's State of the State speech. He also said that the request for proposals would go out to developers later this week.
We believe Cuomo, and we can't wait for the day Penn Station is transformed back to its former glory. Mostly, we can't wait for the day we don't have to dread going there. That'll make getting out of the city much more pleasant, won't it?[via The New York Times] [Feature Image Courtesy The New York Times]