[99] A draft environmental impact statement was released in July 2017. [84] The Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal to Chicago were truncated or rerouted because of this work. Custom preview. [108], The statue of Samuel Rea still exists and is located outside the modern Penn Station entrance on Seventh Avenue. [85], Although most Amtrak passengers board via the escalators in the main Amtrak boarding area, there are multiple entrances and exits for each platform. [49], The station was busiest during World War II: in 1945, more than 100 million passengers traveled through Penn Station. [75], As a result of these incidents, the Long Island Rail Road had proposed taking over Penn Station from Amtrak to improve maintenance,[76] and New Jersey has suggested withholding state payments to Amtrak. [46] During World War I and the early 1920s, the rival B&O passenger trains to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and St. Louis also used Penn Station, initially by order of the United States Railroad Administration, until the Pennsylvania Railroad terminated the B&O's access in 1926. Normally, the LIRR uses tracks 17–21 exclusively and shares tracks 13–16 with Amtrak and NJT. MEDIUM. West of the station, at approximately Ninth Avenue, all 21 tracks merged into the North River Tunnels' two tracks. [23] This was possible because most of the rail infrastructure, including the waiting room, concourses and platforms, was below street level. Investors would be granted commercial rights to the station in exchange for paying building costs. [58] The LIRR's West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986. Despite the improvements, Penn Station continues to be criticized as a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to the much larger and more ornate Grand Central Terminal. [109][110] A new direct entrance from 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue to the LIRR concourse is under construction, and would be completed in 2022 along with the expanded concourse. Original granite becomes exposed every so often in heavily trafficked corridors where modern flooring has worn, and the modern waiting areas and ticket booths occupy roughly the same spaces as the original 1910 configuration. [50] However, the station had already gone into decline as early as the 1930s, and by the 1950s its ornate pink granite exterior had become coated with grime. [110][109] An original cast iron partition was uncovered during renovations, now separating a Long Island Rail Road waiting area from the hallway on the lower concourse. [111] The structure survived the demolition of the main station building, but was downgraded so that it only provided compressed air for the switches in the interlockings under the station. [50][54] Advertisements surrounded the station's Seventh Avenue concourse, while stores and restaurants were crammed around the Eighth Avenue side's mezzanine. [94] Some previously planned improvements already underway have also been incorporated into the Gateway plan. Other railroads began their routes at terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia and Communipaw which required passengers from New York City to take the interstate Hudson Tubes (now PATH) or ferries across the Hudson River before boarding their trains. [17], By the late 1950s, intercity rail passenger volumes had declined dramatically with the coming of the Jet Age and the Interstate Highway System. 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