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Amtrak will relocate to Moynihan Station

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Amtrak has agreed to move across Eighth Avenueto the proposed $1.5 billion Moynihan railroad stationinside Manhattan’s main post office in a decision advocates said was a shot in the arm for the off-and-on project.

The new rail station would replace the present Penn Station, through which thousands of Queens commuters on the Long Island Rail Road pass daily and which Mayor Michael Bloomberg once called a “dreary, subterranean failure.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday he and Gov. David Paterson had been negotiating with Amtrak, the federal passenger railroad, for six months.

“This is a major breakthrough,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the latest development would facilitate raising money for the project. Some $202 million in federal grants is also available.

The agreement was in part brought about by Amtrak’s winning the right to share revenue from retail outlets in the new station complex and to make some design changes, according to Josh Vlasto, a Schumer spokesman.

Amtrak had previously pleaded lack of money to move its operations out of the present Penn Station, which it owns.

The proposed station was the idea of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who sought to bring back an atmosphere of architectural splendor that characterized the original Pennsylvania Station. Moynihan died in 2003.

The original Beaux Arts style station was demolished in 1963 despite widespread protests.

The proposed new station would be built inside the James A. Farley General Post Office, which like the original Penn Station, was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White.

The Farley Post Office faces east with a two-block line of Corinthian columns surmounted with the unofficial U.S. Post Office motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Some literature has characterized the motto as that of the third-century Persian King Xerxes’ mounted messengers. The post office ended its 24-hour service every day of the week in May and now closes at 10 p.m.

The proposal has been cut back from some of the more ambitious designs, including a series of office skyscrapers.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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