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Penn Station Commuters in a Sweat Amid Air Conditioning Breakdown

By Trevor Kapp | May 30, 2012 1:37pm | Updated on May 30, 2012 2:08pm

MIDTOWN — Commuters at Penn Station continued to sweat it out Wednesday after an air conditioning shut down that began almost 24 hours ago dragged on, officials said.

The sweltering temperatures — which reached 90 degrees inside Tuesday — stemmed from efforts to improve the climate system, an Amtrak spokesman said Wednesday. A railroad spokesman said Amtrak started a $30 million renovation of chillers and cooling towers in May 2010, unintentionally limiting the capacity of the towers in the commuter waiting area.

Commuters weren’t happy about the heat.

“You can’t breathe in here,” moaned Kenny Beecher, 62, a Toms River, N.J., commuter who works for a theater company. “It feels like the air is heavy and saturated. You could cut it with a knife.”

David Quinn, 40, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, said he couldn’t wait to board his train.

“It’s like you’re in a box with no windows,” said Quinn, who was headed to visit his daughter in Virginia. “It’s not even July or August. It’s only May. It’s ridiculous.”

Troy Grant, 32, of Amityville, L.I., came into the city for a job interview this morning. But he said he worried his sweaty appearance might affect his chances.

“It’s terrible,” Grant said. “I’m sweaty, I’m uncomfortable. It feels like I’m in a sauna.”

An Amtrak spokesman told the Journal that the contractor, Kiewit Constructors Inc., will work tirelessly to restore the cool air. Work on the current air-conditioning upgrade will likely be finished this week, according to the Journal.

But that’s of little consolation to Quinn.

“I could scream until my head falls off,” he said. “But it ain’t gonna make a difference.”