The Bronx and Manhattan will get a little closer after a plan to connect the two boroughs via Penn Station was approved by transit authorities last week.
The project, dubbed the Penn Station Access, was authorized by the MTA, Amtrak, and Empire State Development on Jan. 22 and will green light the addition of four new Metro-North Railroad stations linking the Bronx to Penn Station.
New stations are slated to go up in Parkchester/Van Nest, Hunts Point, Morris Point, and Co-Op City.
“Too many residents of the Bronx have been without reliable transit, which is why I proposed these new stations,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “These four stations not only will connect the east Bronx to Manhattan’s West Side, but also build upon our ongoing efforts to fully transform our state’s transportation infrastructure.”
According to the MTA, the project will bring trains from the East Bronx over the Hellgate Bridge in Queens where they will merge with the Long Island Railroad route and continue west into Penn Station.
Additionally as part of the agreement, Amtrak will study the feasibility of running additional trains from Long Island to Penn Station and continuing to Boston or Washington D.C.
The $695 million investment in the plan comes from an MTA capital budget for 2015-2019 and $250 million from the Empire State Development company. In an upcoming capital improvement plan for 2020-2024, the MTA will seek the remaining funds to complete the project.
Linking the Bronx to Penn Station will achieve two major benefits according to statements from the Governor’s office and the MTA. In addition to reducing commute times for Bronx residents, it will also expand upon the labor pool from the borough, allowing residents with formerly limited access to Manhattan to commute for work.
Conversely, access to Metro North stations will also open up residents who commute north to Westchester and Connecticut.
“Bringing Metro-North service to the east Bronx is a game changer for the borough, and we have all been eager to get started,” said MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer in a statement.
“This project will significantly reduce travel times for east Bronx residents and help area businesses and institutions attract employees. This is a long-held dream of mine and hundreds of thousands of Bronxites.”
The Bronx in particular has experienced a rapid population growth throughout the last several years, topping the city’s list of fastest growing boroughs in 2018.
According to the New York City Department of Planning, the borough has climbed to its highest population levels since census records in the 1970s — 1.47 million residents in total.
While a contract with HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture for preliminary engineering and design of the project was approved by the Metro North Committee, it must be fully approved by Amtrak and the MTA before the project gets underway. It’s currently under consideration.
Developer Skanska was awarded a $60.2 million contract by the MTA to work on East Side Access, linking the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal, earlier this month.