Herald Square’s central location at the intersection of regional rail service and numerous subway lines has long made it one of New York City’s busiest neighborhoods. But today it is more congested than ever with 92 million people a year passing through its three subway stations, nearly double the number in the 1970s.
Now Macy’s, the epicenter of Herald Square for more than a century, wants to test the area’s limits. It plans to build an 800-foot tall office tower atop the iconic store, part of what could be the beginning of a building spree in the district.
But Tom Wright, the president of Regional Plan Association, a transportation research and policy group, said that the sky-is-falling predictions for Herald Square were overly gloomy. He noted that several ambitious public transit projects are underway that would ease congestion both underground and aboveground.
Penn Station, which Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road share, is extending into the adjacent James A. Farley Post Office to serve passengers riding Amtrak. A rail project known as East Side Access, more than a decade under construction, will eventually move Long Island Rail Road passengers away from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal.
“There is so much investment in the area that you don’t want to walk away from it,” Mr. Wright said. “Taking advantage of that sunken new investment to build new density is good public policy.”
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