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Western Rail Yard Platform looking northeast
Photo courtesy of AKRF

PROJECT BACKGROUND

The MTA Hudson Yards (aka “John D. Caemmerer Hudson Yards”) is an electrified yard that stores 35 LIRR commuter trains daily, with a capacity of 386 train cars on 30 tracks. The train yard is divided into two sections, the Eastern Rail Yard located on Block 702 and the Western Rail Yard located on Block 676.

In 1986, the MTA reconstructed the Western Rail Yard tracks and other facilities specifically to accommodate support columns that would be needed to allow for future construction of private development over the yard, which would allow MTA to maximize it's real estate assets at this location. Furthermore, the area in and around the Western Rail Yard has been the subject of various planning, rezoning, and redevelopment efforts, covering more than 4 dozen blocks of Manhattan’s Far West Side. In 2005, the Hudson Yards Rezoning Project instituted a major rezoning of the entire Hudson Yards area, to accommodate a mix of uses and densities throughout the Far West Side, including over 38 million square feet of new development, the provision of new public open space, and an extension of the No. 7 subway line, with a new Number 7 subway station at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue. This new connection to the subway system made development in the far west midtown area more desirable.

In 2007, MTA reached agreement with The Related Companies, LP (parent company to WRY Tenant LLC) for the development of plans for the Western Rail Yard. MTA and the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) served as co-lead agencies for an environmental review pursuant to the requirements of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR). The 2009 SEQRA/CEQR FEIS was published in October 9, 2009. Based on the findings of the 2009 SEQRA/CEQR Final EIS, zoning text and map amendments for the Western Rail Yard development were adopted into the New York City Zoning Resolution. The Platform and Overbuild are now as-of-right development and would be built in accordance with the City Zoning Resolution’s existing zoning controls.

The FRA conducted an environmental assessment for the construction of a concrete casing beneath Hudson Yards, and issued Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in 2013 and 2014. The purpose of the concrete casing project was to preserve underground right-of-way in Hudson Yards to maintain opportunities to expand rail services, meet future demand, and improve intercity and commuter rail system safety and reliability. The preservation of the right-of-way is necessary to ensure the Platform and Overbuild construction would not eliminate the possibility of future rail development and expansion through Hudson Yards and into New York Penn Station. For more information about FRA’s past environmental reviews of the concrete casing through Hudson Yards, please see https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0666. Since FRA’s issuance of the 2013 and 2014 FONSIs, two of the three sections of encasement have been built. The third section is the Tunnel Encasement that would be constructed as part of this project, and extends on a diagonal alignment from Eleventh Avenue to 30th Street in the Western Rail Yard.