Wednesday, September 09, 2009

MTA Metro-North renews study of Penn Station access

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MTA Metro-North Railroad is streamlining its study of how best to provide direct train service from its New Haven and Hudson lines into Penn Station in New York City via the east Bronx and Manhattan's West Side. An environmental review began a decade ago with the intent of developing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a "Preferred Alternative" pursuant to the National Environmental Protection Act. Through two screening processes, an initial list of 22 service alternatives was narrowed to four "Build" alternatives, two alternatives for Hudson Line service to Penn Station and two alternatives for New Haven Line service to Penn Station.

For each line, one alternative would have provided service in all time periods and included the construction of new stations in New York City in areas not currently served by regional rail service.

The second alternative involved providing service only during off-peak and weekend periods with no new stations. While still under consideration for implementation, the off-peak and weekend service alternatives will no longer be included in the federal environmental review. It was determined that the off-peak and weekend services, without new stations, could be implemented using existing equipment and infrastructure without the need for federal funding.

In consultation with the Federal Transit Administration, Metro-North has decided to progress both the full-service Hudson and New Haven Line alternatives as one proposed "Build" alternative including: Hudson Line Service to Penn Station during all time periods via Amtrak's Empire Connection with two new stations on Manhattan's west side in the vicinity of West 125th and the Upper West Side; and New Haven Line Service to Penn Station during all time periods via the Hell Gate Line with three new stations in the eastern Bronx in the vicinity of Co-op City, Parkchester, and Hunts Point.

Analyses performed to date on this alternative reveal no significant impacts that cannot be mitigated. Therefore, Metro-North has decided to prepare an Environmental Assessment, which is expected to be complete in 2011, rather than an EIS. Metro-North's EA will incorporate data now being gathered about the best long range uses of Penn Station by MTA Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, which owns the station, and MTA Metro-North Railroad.

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