Penn Station Access Study
The purpose of the planning and environmental studies is to evaluate proposed additional rail service for the New York Metropolitan Area that would:
- Improve access between the Metro-North east-of-Hudson service area and the West Side of Manhattan and, from there to other regional destinations;
- Provide additional transportation options and increased flexibility and connectivity in the New York Metropolitan area's transportation network;
- Provide cost-effective transportation improvements that can be implemented while minimizing adverse social, economic and environmental effects; and
- Promote the economic and environmental health and vitality of the New York Metropolitan Area.
Improving travel to the Penn Station area from Metro-North's east-of-Hudson service territory could improve the following types of travel:
- Commutation to Manhattan's West Side (Penn Station and Upper West Side areas);
- Commutation to workplaces in the East Bronx;
- Commutation to Long Island and New Jersey (via transfer at Penn Station to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) or New Jersey Transit (NJT) service);
- Reverse commutation from Manhattan's West Side, Manhattan's Upper West Side, and the East Bronx; to communities in the Metro-North service area;
- Discretionary (non-work-related) travel to Long Island and New Jersey;
- Discretionary (non-work-related) travel to Manhattan's West Side for visits to shops, shows and museums; and
- Improved access via connection to Amtrak service at Penn Station for long-distance travel.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the lead federal agency for the environmental review, and Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North) issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Major Investment Study/Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/EIS) on September 2, 1999. The purpose of the planning and environmental studies was to evaluate proposed additions to Metro-North service that would use existing infrastructure to improve regional access and rail connectivity, increase Metro-North ridership, improve Metro-North service flexibility, support regional economic development and improve the quality of life in the region. While the FTA and Metro-North have not issued a Draft EIS (DEIS), substantial analyses have been performed.
In accordance with NEPA, a scoping process was conducted to initiate the environmental review process and to obtain the public's input to the project's purpose and need and the potential alternative for addressing them. Following completion of the scoping process, a list of 22 preliminary alternatives was developed.
Two screening processes also were conducted. The first, which was documented in a November 2000 Initial Screening Report, qualitatively evaluated a long list of 22 Penn Station access alternatives. Alternatives containing multiple options for providing rail service to Penn Station, including both direct connections from Metro-North's Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines, as well as through indirect connections via LIRR service and transportation system management alternatives were analyzed. The screening effort concluded with the recommendation to further consider five intermediate alternative services. The Initial Screening Report can be found in the "Study Documents" section of this website.
A second screening, which was documented in a September 2002, Comparative Screening Results Report, involved the comparative screening of five intermediate alternative services and 20 potential new station locations in the Bronx and Manhattan. The second screening effort culminated in the selection of a short list of four Penn Station Access alternatives and potential new station locations for conceptual engineering definition and detailed operations and environmental analyses.
These alternatives were:
Alternative 1: Hudson Line Service in all time periods (peak, off-peak, and weekends) to Penn Station via Amtrak's Empire Connection with new station stops in the vicinity of West 125th and West 62nd Streets;
Alternative 1A: Hudson Line Service only during off-peak and weekend periods to Penn Station via Amtrak's Empire Connection, with no new station stops;
Alternative 2: New Haven Line Service in all time periods to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Line with new station stops in the vicinity of Co-op City, Parkchester, and Hunts Point;
Alternative 2A: New Haven Line Service only during off-peak and weekend periods to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Line, with no new station stops.
The Comparative Screening Results Report also can be found in the "Study Documents" section of this website.
To date, Metro-North has performed technical analyses for the remaining alternatives. Based upon this work and consultations with the FTA, Metro-North has taken the following actions:
Alternatives 1A & 2A: Metro-North has determined that Alternatives 1A and 2A, which involve only off-peak service changes without the construction of any new stations, can be implemented independently and without the need for Federal funding. The services on the Hudson and New Haven lines will use existing rail equipment with only minor improvements, all of which are on property within the existing rail rights-of-way. Consequently, Alternatives 1A and 2A, which are still under consideration for implementation, will not be included in the current Federal environmental review.
Alternatives 1 & 2: Metro-North has refined Alternatives 1 and 2 by combining them into a single “build” alternative. This single alternative will provide rail access in all time periods from Metro-North's Hudson and New Haven lines to Penn Station, and will include construction of new intermediate stations in Manhattan (in the vicinity of West 125th Street and the Upper West Side) and the Bronx (in the vicinity of Co-op City, Parkchester and Hunts Point). One station (Morris Park) was recently added to the study in recognition of the recent development in the vicinity of the proposed station and community input.
Environmental Review: The analyses performed to date of Alternatives 1 and 2 revealed no significant impacts that could not be mitigated. Therefore, Metro-North is refocusing and streamlining the environmental review process by preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the single alternative, combining Alternatives 1 and 2. While pursuing this streamlined process, Metro-North will update key technical analyses that were previously prepared for the DEIS, focusing on relevant issues associated with combined Alternatives 1 and 2.
Parallel Effort: Penn Station Operations Study: It was also determined that the Penn Station Access environmental review would benefit from an updated analysis of future Penn Station operations, including Metro-North's combined Penn Station Access "build" alternative and other services being considered for Penn Station by MTA- LIRR, NJT, and Amtrak. That study, which is being managed by the MTA and includes participation by Metro-North, LIRR, NJT, and Amtrak, will provide important input to the analyses for the Penn Station Access EA.
The next step in the Penn Station Access environmental review process is to update information, conduct further analyses of potential station locations as well as the combined effects of Alternatives 1 and 2 in order to prepare the EA. The results of the Penn Station Operations Study will be used as input to the environmental review. It is anticipated that the EA, including input obtained from the Penn Station Operations Study, will be completed in 2013.
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