NJ Transit puts out RFP for $190M Penn Station renovation

The plan to update and renovate Newark Penn Station — for too long an outdated transportation facility — took another big step when New Jersey Transit put out a Request for Proposals for master planning, conceptual, preliminary and final design and construction assistance services for the planned $190 million project.

Simply put, it’s a request to help modernize an outdated structure that not only is an important focal point of the Northeast Corridor, but the entry point to the state for many.

That’s the way Gov. Phil Murphy sees it.

“This major renovation and restoration project is an important step in the continuing revitalization of Newark,” he said. “With this significant investment, our state’s largest city will greet commuters and travelers in a manner worthy of its great history and stature.”

Newark Penn Station has been an iconic symbol of both the promise of public transportation and the energy and innovativeness of the city of Newark since it opened in 1935. In fact, Newark Penn Station is listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Now, however, it is one that is woefully out of date.

State officials said this project reimagines the building as one that will provide customers with a 21st-century experience while maintaining the station’s historic grandeur. The project will require the installation of updated amenities, pedestrian spaces and infrastructure, creating a station modernized in the post-COVID world.

NJ Transit said proposals will be judged based on their ability to ensure the station features amenities and functions that will meet the modern-day expectations of both customers passing through the station, as well as those of the residents and businesses.

This first phase includes a master planning process that will solicit public feedback on the long-term future and reimagining of Newark Penn Station. Proposals should address contemporary issues such as public health protection, future transportation needs and climate change challenges associated with the station and its location, NJ Transit officials said.

Once a contract is granted, NJ Transit officials said they intend to enter with a phased approach and will divide the services requirements into various phases. The consultant will perform master planning and conceptual design, and design construction documents and construction plans that address immediate state of good repair needs and long-term capital improvements to Newark Penn Station and present opportunities to better integrate the station within the context of the communities in the surrounding region.

The first phase of renovations will focus on aesthetics, such as restoration of the classic benches in the waiting room, installation of brighter lighting, updating of the bathrooms, improved HVAC and air-handling, fresh paint and tile, and a deep clean of the limestone exterior to once again showcase the architecturally significant facade. Longer-term enhancements will focus on improving the station’s openness and overall commuter and visitor experience, including the restoration of the grand waiting hall.

NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett said he is eager to get going.

“Through the release of this RFP, we will transform Newark Penn Station — building on the significant work already underway as part of master plan that focuses on both state-of-good-repair work and major infrastructure improvements to enhance every aspect of the customer experience,” he said.

“NJ Transit thanks both Gov. Murphy and (Department of Transportation) Commissioner (Diane) Gutierrez-Scaccetti for recognizing the urgent need to restore Newark Penn — one of the busiest, most historic and most vital multimodal transportation hubs in our region — to its former glory.”