Busy Penn Station makes changes for the holidays

November 22, 1994|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

The annual holiday squeeze at Pennsylvania Station may prove less frustrating this year.

Some modifications have been made to improve access to the Baltimore train terminal. It's part of an effort to relieve the station's Thanksgiving bottleneck, a condition worsened by the construction of the station's parking garage.

"Travel looks like it's going to be heavier this year than last," said Ken Wiedel, Amtrak's general supervisor of Penn Station. "I think we've done some things that are really going to help."

For the first time since garage construction began 18 months ago, travelers will be able to walk in the station's main doors. Visitors can now walk along the sidewalk from Charles Street to the south side of the station.

The advantage, Mr. Wiedel said, is that people entering the station won't have to fight the crowds leaving through the Charles Street exit. They will also be entering the station closer to the ticket counter.

The 10-minute parking zone on the east side of Charles Street has been converted to a no-standing area. Just south of that drop-off zone, the area restricted to handicapped passengers has been accentuated with new signs.

North of the station, parking meters on Lanvale Street have been changed to one-hour parking from 10-hour parking to improve turnover. Commuters and other daylong travelers are encouraged to use nearby parking facilities instead.

Amtrak has promised additional baggage handlers and improved security during the holiday crush. City police plan to beef up enforcement of parking restrictions around the station.

Vanessa Pyatt, spokeswoman for the city public works department, said the changes that affect parking on Charles and Lanvale streets are permanent.

The $9.1 million garage, originally scheduled to open two months ago, is set to open in May. Last winter's icy weather and the relocation of a city sewer line have been blamed for the delay.

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