PURPOSE & NEED
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to (1) cover and protect the active railroad tracks and LIRR support facilities in the Western Rail Yard so that the joint venture can provide additional new capacity for real estate development and house critical life safety and mechanical, electrical and plumbing support services for the Yard, including new lighting, sprinklers, and an extensive Platform ventilation system; and (2) preserve a right-of-way through the Western Rail Yard to support the future construction of a trans-Hudson passenger rail crossing into New York Penn Station. The Platform is needed to support the provision of developable land area that would generate revenue for the MTA and its subsidiary agencies and modernize state-of-the-art life safety systems for the entire Western Rail Yard. MTA has sought to maximize the revenue generation potential of its real estate assets; and, when Hudson Yards was redeveloped in 1986, the tracks and other facilities were specifically laid out to accommodate support columns that would be required for future development.
Currently, there is no capacity for development over the Western Rail Yard without construction of the Platform. The 2005 Hudson Yards rezoning included the extension of the No. 7 IRT Flushing Line subway to 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, providing new and closer access to the subway system in this area which made private development considerably more attractive and viable in this part of Manhattan. The 2005 Hudson Yards rezoning also provided for the development of a mix of uses and densities, including a provision for open space. The Tunnel Encasement is needed to preserve right of way for new rail infrastructure to support passenger rail service in and out of New York Penn Station. New rail infrastructure is part of the effort to maintain a functional, resilient, and improved trans-Hudson passenger rail crossing into New York Penn Station, maintain existing Amtrak intercity and NJ TRANSIT commuter rail service on the Northeast Corridor, and to support future increases in the capacity of the regional rail system should they be pursued.