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Pt. Authority: We can fund Moynihan Station project

Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said his agency is "well positioned" and has the financial resources to come to the aid of the faltering Moynihan Station project.

"Like Grand Central on the East Side, rebuilding Penn Station into a landmark transit hub on the West Side would spur development and provide expanded transportation capacity critical to anchoring a 21st century mass transit system," Coscia said.

"We have the financial capacity and the technical know-how and we have a proud history of building major transportation projects in this region, Coscia said in an address to Crain's New York Business Breakfast Forum on April 16.

"We believe the Port Authority is well-positioned to help," Coscia said.

Money has once again cropped up as a major problem for the Moynihan project. It was originally slated to cost $1.1 billion. But the cost has risen to $14 billion since plans were expanded to build not only a rail station in the Farley Post Office but perhaps as many as five office towers and retail and business space. The original plans also included building a new Madison Square Garden, but MSG recently withdrew from the project in favor of its own $500 million renovation plan.

The Port Authority could conceivably make available to the Moynihan project $2 billion in the PA Capital Budget originally intended for the agency's regional transit projects over the next decade.

However, before the money could be designated it would need approval from the governors of New York and New Jersey, since the Port Authority is a two-state agency.

The project to convert the stately Farley Post Office into a new and grand style rail station was the idea of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The present Penn Station where 600,000 commuters pass daily is owned by Amtrak and has been reviled almost since its opening in 1968 for its inelegance and gloomy ambiance. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has referred to it as "a dismal subterranean failure."

The original 1910 station boasted architectural elegance and design by the renowned firm of McKim, Mead and White, and was fronted by 50-foot-high columns surmounted by a two-block-long inscription that remains today and has become the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service:

"Neither Rain Nor Snow, Nor Heat Nor Gloom of Night Stays These Couriers from the Swift Completion of their Appointed Rounds."

The original Pennsylvania Station was demolished in the mid-1960s despite protests and it led to the city's Landmarks Preservation movement.

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

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