Silver Lining: ARC Tunnel Debacle Means Spruced Up Penn Station

Turns out what’s bad for New Jersey is good for Long Island.

When Governor Chris Christie killed the ARC Tunnel, the nation’s largest single infrastructure project ever undertaken, he doomed thousands of Garden State residents to longer commutes for the forseeable future. But because the nixing of the project also means the abandonment of a new New Jersey Transit station, the MTA has decided to accelerate plans to spruce up Penn Station for its Long Island Railroad riders, according to The Journal.

This will not be the grand new station many riders would hope for, as is currently planned for Amtrak at the neighboring Farley Post Office, future home of Moyn* Station. Instead, the MTA is looking at interim fixes,  such as improved signage and wayfinding and perhaps some improvements to the dingy warren of passageways created by Robert Moses a half-century ago.

“It’s a facility that’s showing its age,” LIRR President Helena Williams said. “It’s cluttered visually, functionally.”

The railroad plans to issue a solicitation early next year for designers to study the problems at Penn Station and come up with proposals for fixing them. Ms. Williams said she expects that process to take less than a year. Then it’ll be up to the LIRR to figure out how to implement them, she said.

The plan could take a while, in part because it requires the three rail operators to sign off on any new plans.

This is only the latest change to a hodge-podge of concourses and causeways–New Jersery Transit had the most recent renovation, in 2004, and Amtrak and the LIRR have been largely untouched since the ’90s. Yet these differing designs and riot of signs and fonts and colors are part of the problem, and fixing up only one set does not seem like the best solution. What Penn Station really needs is a unified design, as is made clear in an excellent series on signage that Slate produced last year, including the below video.

Yet one imagines getting all three ral operator to agree on what actually to do would be harder than getting Moynihan Station built.

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

Silver Lining: ARC Tunnel Debacle Means Spruced Up Penn Station