The approximately $400 million project to modernize and widen New York Penn Station’s Long Island Railroad (LIRR) 33rd Street concourse is now complete, Skanska, AECOM and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) reported July 10.
Design-builder Skanska and designer of record AECOM—which provided design, engineering, vertical transportation and project management services—worked with lead architect SOM on the 27-month project. It covered both the design and construction of the concourse with a widened corridor, raised ceiling heights, upgraded lighting and wayfinding, new digital information screens, improved mechanical and electrical systems, and new architectural finishes, among other station enhancements. Construction began in January 2021, and the team said they achieved substantial completion in March 2023.
Last reconstructed 30 years ago, the “crummy terminal” (as characterized by New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair and CEO Janno Lieber last September) nearly doubled in width, from 30 to 57 feet, and its ceilings were raised to 18 feet.
The concourse stretches from Seventh Avenue near the 1/2/3 subway to Eighth Avenue near the A/C/E subway.
AECOM, Skanska and SOM said the renovation also improved safety and ADA access from the street to the concourse via a new elevator on 33rd Street, as well as from the concourse to the platforms with rebuilt stairs and handrails, new enclosures for fire protection, and a replacement elevator.
“The most heavily used concourse of America’s busiest train station has been entirely transformed, both visually and functionally,” said Thomas Prendergast, Executive Vice President and Americas Transit Market Leader for AECOM, former New York MTA Chairman (2013-17), and Railway Age’s 2017 Railroader of the Year. “The improvements make commuting more convenient, while also allowing this transit hub to have the capacity and accessibility to meet New York’s growing transportation needs. We’re proud to have worked with the MTA and our partners to broaden and revitalize the concourse while also minimizing impacts to LIRR commuters and the station’s operations.”
“In order to best accommodate and enhance the commuting experience for the 600,000 passengers that utilize LIRR’s 33rd Street corridor daily, deciphering a path to improving the station’s circulation and traffic flow without disrupting daily train service was paramount,” said Michael Viggiano, Executive Vice President of Skanska’s East Coast civil operations. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the completion of this project and to have played a crucial role in reconstructing one of New York City’s most highly trafficked transit hubs.”
“We worked closely with the design-build team to create a new center of gravity for Penn Station and the LIRR,” SOM Partner Colin Koop said. “The concourse design introduces a clear connection to Seventh Avenue and simplifies the flow of foot traffic between the street, the subways and the LIRR—helping travelers easily navigate the station, all in an expansive space filled with light.
The work on the concourse “is a step toward the full-scale reconstruction of Penn Station into a modern, spacious, world-class single-level terminal that is open to natural light,” the MTA said in September 2022. MTA last month issued a Notice to Proceed to kick off preliminary design on a plan to transform the existing Penn Station into a “world-class commuter and intercity transit hub.”