THE approximately $US 395m project to modernise 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 on July 10.

The project - awarded to the team by Penn District Station Developer in 2020 - was partially unveiled in September 2022.

The concourse stretches from Seventh Avenue near the 1/2/3 subway to Eighth Avenue near the A/C/E subway and was last updated 30 years ago.

Design-builder Skanska and designer of record Aecom - which provided design, engineering, vertical transport and project management services - worked with lead architect SOM to expand the height of ceilings to 5.5m and the LIRR concourse’s width from 9m to 17m. Construction began in January 2021, and the team said they achieved substantial completion in March 2023.

The 27-month project also involved upgrading lighting and wayfinding, installing new digital information screens, improving mechanical and electrical systems, and introducing new architectural finishes, all of which will benefit the 600,000 passengers who use the concourse on a daily basis.

“The most heavily used concourse of America’s busiest station has been entirely transformed, both visually and functionally,” says Mr Thomas Prendergast, executive vice-president and Americas transit market leader for Aecom, who served as chairman of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) chairman from 2013 to 2017.

“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 revitalise the concourse while also minimizing impacts to LIRR commuters and the station’s operations.”

“We worked closely with the design-build team to create a new centre 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 travellers 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.”