Paterson Asks for $98 M. in Stimulus Money for Moynihan Station

 The Paterson administration has passed Washington, D.C., the collection plate for Moynihan Station. Earlier this week, the state submitted an application for$98,281,730 in funds from the federal stimulus package out of a pot called “TIGER,” a program in which the Obama administration has broad discretion on how to dole out awards.

(The state’s reliance on the federal stimulus package to start the expansion of Penn Station, along with a new piecemeal approach, were the subjects of a feature I wrote this week.)

The money, per the application, is for almost exclusively below-ground infrastructure that would expand Penn Station’s “Western Concourse” under Eighth Avenue that’s currently just used by Long Island Railroad passengers; add new entrances above ground; and install required ventilation for the station. The estimated price for all this work, which barely adds train capacity and doesn’t create a new train hall: $267 million. (Back when the project was being pushed by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, from the early 1990s until his death in 2003, Amtrak estimated the project in full—building a new station in the Farley Post Office—would cost $315 million, in 1993 dollars.)

Should the state get the stimulus funds, it would use another $109 million in federal money that’s been lying around for years as the project has stagnated, along with city and state money.

After this so-called “Phase I” of the project is done, the state application outlines a “Phase II,” which is similar to the plans that were nearly approved back in 2006:

-two new iconic pedestrian halls in the Farley building

-landmark restoration (presumably the building could qualify for a preservation tax credit worth tens of millions of dollars)

-creation of 86,000 square feet of retail

-the activation of a new “diagonal” platform under the Farley building, to be used for Amtrak service up to Albany and Buffalo


Of course there's not nearly enough money to do all of these improvements, the price tag for which is in the neighborhood of $1 billion. In total, about $400 million has been sitting around for years from various government agencies.

It also seems the state is the lead applicant, with an undetermined role for the Port Authority, which has been involved in the planning. The application says the project would need approval from the Public Authorities Control Board, which means Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Democrats leading the state Senate would have to sign off on the plan.

The full application is here, along with two appendices

Paterson Asks for $98 M. in Stimulus Money for Moynihan Station