A rendering of the plans for the new Moynihan station.

A rendering of the plans for the new Moynihan station. Credit: A rendering of the plans for the new Moynihan station.

After 20 years of false starts, construction on the new Moynihan Station will start this year, officials said Tuesday, beginning with improvements to Penn Station.

Port Authority head Pat Foye, who is overseeing the project, said the Moynihan Station Development Corporation plans to award the first contract of the project's first phase Wednesday, which will expand Penn Station's Eighth Avenue concourse and add entrances on 33rd and 31st Streets by 2016. The $147 million contract is expected to go to Skanska, a contracting source confirmed.

Foye said the improvements would "make the station easier to navigate, safer, and far more pleasant for everyone," adding that traveling in Penn Station now "is not a pleasant commuting experience."

Once the first phase begins, officials will finalize and try to find funding for a second phase - estimated to cost $500 million - that would move Amtrak service to the where the historic James Farley Post Office is (the post office will keep its lobby). That would also give commuter railroads more space.

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