ALBANY — A long-planned project to bring Metro-North train service to a transit-starved corridor of the Bronx is finally on track.
Gov. Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other officials attended a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday for the project, which includes the construction of four new stations that will give Bronx residents direct access to Penn Station.
“Projects like this really do have an impact on people’s lives very profoundly, very profoundly,“ Hochul said during a press conference in Hunts Point. “It’s all about quality of life. And if we can use something that sounds as cold and detached as infrastructure to make people’s lives better that’s when I get excited.”
The four new stations will be in Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park, and Co-Op City, and they’ll give Bronx commutes access to Metro-North stops in Westchester and Connecticut as well as Penn Station.
The new stations will be built alongside Amtrak’s Hell Gate line, currently used by Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains headed for Boston and elsewhere in New England. The project will turn the current two-track configuration of the line into four tracks.
MTA officials say the new stations will greatly speed up Bronx commuters’ travel times.
At Friday’s groundbreaking, officials said those who take public transit from the proposed Co-Op City station to Penn Station will see travel time cut to 25 minutes, down from the current 75-minute trip time.
Penn Access will cut public transit travel time from Hunts Point to Penn Station to 16 minutes, down from the current 45 minutes, the MTA says. A trip from Hunts Point to Stamford that now takes 80 minutes will take 47 minutes, the agency said.
Roughly 500,000 Bronx residents live within one mile of the four planned stations, which have been stalled for years due in part to an impasse over repair work on the Hell Gate Bridge.
The project has also been stalled due to damage caused by flooding from Hurricane Sandy that wreaked havoc on Amtrak’s set of four century-old East River tunnels. The tunnels are currently used by Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passenger trains, as well as NJ Transit trains that head to Sunnyside Yards in Queens for storage.
The new service is expected to be up and running by 2027.
“We’re bringing new connections to the East Bronx, a historically underserved community that… has for 100 years been watching trains fly by without ever stopping here,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said. “This… is what transit equity looks like. That is what you’re seeing today.”
The total cost of the project is projected to be $3.18 billion, up from a previous estimate of $2.9 billion. Part of the increase includes an MTA Capital Plan amendment announced in July that included money to expand a rail yard in New Rochelle.
Amtrak will be contributing $500 million, while New York State and the MTA are applying for $2.1 billion from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership grant program.
Schumer said the agency “recently signaled that Penn Station Access would be a strong candidate” for the grant money.
“So I’m going to be keeping a close eye on them, I watch them like a hawk to make sure they deliver on that allocation because this is a no-brainer project,” Schumer said. “We’re going to make sure they commit more money each year going forward to reach the maximum possible federal share for this project, relieving the burden from New York taxpayers.”
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