Plans for an
underground transportation concourse at the World
Trade Center site have been altered in response to
pleas from family members of victims of the Sept. 11
attacks that the concourse not run beneath the
footprint of one of the destroyed towers, officials in
the rebuilding effort say.
But other elements of the transportation system at the
trade center, including the location of the PATH
terminal and the route of the tracks for the PATH
commuter line, are likely to remain as they were
before Sept. 11, according to Joseph J. Seymour,
executive director of the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey, and Louis R. Tomson, the president of
the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
In an interview last week, the two officials said the
change in the route of the underground concourse was a
concession to family members who want to preserve the
footprints of the twin towers as part of a memorial to
victims of the
attack. Gov. George E. Pataki endorsed that desire
this summer when he told family members that nothing
would be built where the towers stood.
The transportation concourse is designed to stretch
from the World Financial Center eastward to a new
Fulton Transit Center, to be built above the tangle of
subway lines that have stops at the Fulton Street and
stations. The concourse would allow easy transfers
among all of the downtown subway and commuter rail
lines and the Hudson River ferries.
Rebuilding officials say they anticipate that the
concourse will be lined with stores, which would allow
the Port Authority, owner of the land, to satisfy some
of its obligation under a lease to Westfield America
for 600,000 square feet of retail space at the trade
center. "I don't think the families want a
commercial element through those footprints," Mr.
Seymour said. Therefore, the path of the concourse is
likely to be moved northward toward Vesey Street,
allowing it to skirt the north tower footprint rather
than passing beneath it, through the middle of the
trade center site.
The decision is being made now, before the development
corporation hires five new firms to come up with
alternative plans for the site, because "we need
to get the new transit hub into preliminary
design," Mr. Seymour said.
Rebuilding officials had also considered moving the
PATH terminal from its previous location in the middle
of the trade center site to a location along Church
Street, directly beneath a planned "intermodal
But in the interview, Mr. Seymour said, "I think
you're going to find that the PATH station is going to
stay where it is." The Port Authority has already
begun rebuilding the station, although it had not been
clear whether that would be only
a temporary station or something more permanent.
Keeping the PATH station in its previous spot means
that as PATH trains exit the tunnel passing beneath
the Hudson River, they will still run along tracks
that cross beneath the footprint of the south tower.
Some relatives have also protested that arrangement,
saying that they want nothing to breach the area below
the tower footprints all the way down to the bedrock,
six floors below ground. But Mr. Seymour said that
leaving all that space empty was unlikely. The
substructure of underground floors that had
been below the trade center towers and plaza is needed
to hold up the "bathtub" walls, which keep
groundwater from flowing into the area that was
occupied by the trade center basement.
Mr. Tomson said he hoped the families would accept the
decision about the PATH tracks as long as there was no
shopping or parking directly beneath the tower
footprints. "It's very important we have a
friendly pedestrian way to get between the World
Financial Center and the Fulton Transit Center,"
Mr. Tomson said. "My experience with the families
is that when you explain the issues they generally are
very reasonable." The officials said they
thought that at least part of West Street would be be
moved underground, but that it was too early to say
whether that would be only the part immediately
adjoining the trade center site, from Vesey Street to
Liberty Street, or a longer section.