NJ Transit has announced plans to improve pedestrian and vehicle access to Penn Station, one of the state’s most important transit hubs located at the heart of the city’s downtown.
The $14 million project calls for the installation of additional traffic signals, new sidewalks, a new taxi queue, as well as various other cosmetic and safety improvements. The funds are being provided under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.
Motor vehicle traffic, especially during rush hour, is often snarled near the station, partly as the result of pedestrians attempting to cross the major roadways that converge there.
“The improvements will make it safer for our customers to access the many modes of transportation at Penn Station,” said Nancy Snyder, a spokesperson for NJ Transit.
Scheduled to begin by mid-summer, the project at the 77-year-old station -- which is on the state and national registers of historic places -- will take about 18 months to finish, with an anticipated completion date in late 2013.
The project will be done in phases so as not to interfere with traffic at Penn, which daily serves 50,000 commuters accessing NJ Transit rail and buses, Amtrak, the PATH rail line, private buses and taxis. Construction is scheduled so that no more than half of pedestrian and roadway pathways are closed at any given time.
NJ Transit will also work closely with city officials to ensure the construction has minimal impact during special events in the area, such as street festivals or events at the nearby Prudential Center arena, Snyder said.
The improvements include the widening of Alling Street, reconstruction of the sidewalk on Raymond Plaza East, a new taxi “queueing” area on Commerce Street to Raymond Plaza, and improved pedestrian access across Market Street.
“State of the art” pedestrian crossing signals will also be installed at a number of streets, including Ferry Street, Railroad Avenue, Raymond and Market, Snyder said, adding that the specific scope of the project may be changed as construction is underway. A proposed roundabout that was to be located immediately west of the station was scrapped due to concerns raised by area business owners.
The Newark Municipal Council is scheduled to vote on minor aspects of the project during its meeting tonight.