MTA reaches agreement with Amtrak on Metro-North East Bronx expansion project

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday an agreement was reached amongst the MTA, Empire State Development and Amtrak, allowing the expansion of Metro-North stations in the Bronx.

The agreement will add four new stations in East Bronx—Hunts Point, Parkchester—Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City—which will connect to Penn Station. Officials say the project will "dramatically reduce commute times for many Bronx residents."

Specifically, the new service will bring Metro-North trains over the Hell Gate Bridge into Queens, merging along the LIRR route, proceeding through the East River Tunnels into Manhattan and west to Penn Station. The project will include new tracks and switches as well as power, signal, communication and infrastructure updates, according to a statement released by the government's office.

"Too many residents of the Bronx have been without reliable transit, which is why I proposed these new stations," Gov. Cuomo said. "With a reconstructed Moynihan Station currently underway, these four stations not only will connect the east Bronx to Manhattan's West Side, but also build upon our ongoing efforts to fully transform our state's transportation infrastructure.

The East Bronx Metro-North train proposal has been considered since the 1980s, but it wasn't until 2010 that it began getting serious traction.

New York City's Department of City Planning conducted a three-year planning process that concluded in 2014, which played a role in the NYS approving the nearly $695 million project in 2017.

Amtrak's lack of signing the agreement impacted the nearly 5-year delay, as the railway operator sought to get the state to fund more infrastructure improvements.

In December, Amtrak released the following statement to PIX11, when asked about the push back:

"Amtrak has been cooperating with MTA’s planning efforts regarding the proposed expansion of Metro-North train service into Amtrak’s New York Penn Station, which would include construction of four new commuter rail stations on Amtrak property in the Bronx. Amtrak and MTA executives have met frequently in recent months to try to reach agreement on a number of key issues regarding design, construction and ultimately train operation of this project, in order to ensure that the proposed expansion of Metro-North service does not adversely impact Amtrakintercity passenger rail operation, which will see a significant expansion in 2021 with the introduction of expanded Acela Express service between New York and Boston.

In addition, this proposed project must be integrated with other key regional priorities, including Moynihan Station development, East Side Access, East River Tunnel Rehabilitation, the Gateway program and other projects sponsored by commuter, state and local agencies and commercial development entities, as well as ongoing operation of Amtrak, NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road and freight rail service in this area."

A specific schedule for the project was not immediately available, though officials are planning to issue a notice to proceed order to allow HNTB, New York's engineering and architecture firm, to begin design planning.

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