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Newark Penn Set For $190 Million in Renovations

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Newark Penn Station is getting a makeover. Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced a $190 million program of renovations and upgrades -- without delay.

“I’m proud to announce that work is going to begin immediately on $30 million in renovations and restorations to Newark Penn station paid for through state funds,” he said, standing in front of the main entrance to the station on a cold December morning.

The first phase, Murphy said, will focus on things like lighting, painting, seating in waiting areas, improved signage, and renovated bathrooms. The $160 million that will be spent over the next five years is aimed at making the station a destination with more dining and shopping.

Murphy took a few questions after the announcement, one about whether the funding for the renovations was related to the Gateway Project to renovate the rail lines connecting Newark and New York City, which has struggled for funding for close to a decade.

He said the two projects are completely separate, but that the long-delayed Gateway may have found a friend in President-elect Joe Biden. “I don’t want to put words in the president-elect’s mouth,” said Murphy, “but he and I had a very good conversation Saturday night and Gateway was a specific topic, he’s been a big believer in it from Day One.”

Murphy also took the occasion to give a Covid update, and was asked about the state’s plans for any further restrictions. “We’re not waiting around on hospitalization numbers to make decisions on indoor dining or things like that,” he said. “We’re looking at where the infections are and if we can strike surgically to get at those infections we will and we have.”

Murphy reported almost 3500 more people in New Jersey have been hospitalized, 90 more have died, and the state’s positivity rate is just under 11%.