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    First step for WTC site Architect, officials break ground on WTC site of future $2.2B transportation center Port Authority building


The first construction project on the 16-acre World Trade Center site was launched yesterday with New York and New Jersey officials breaking ground for a new transportation hub there.

The $2.2-billion center being built by the Port Authority should create 10,000 construction jobs and help shore up the transportation connections to downtown that business and community leaders say are sorely needed to bring companies back to Ground Zero, officials said. It is expected to be completed by 2009. The Port Authority has been operating a temporary, $330-million PATH station with a main entrance at Church and Vesey streets.

The new hub would not only serve the Path train, but would provide underground access to the city's subway lines and eventual links to Kennedy Airport and Long Island, officials said. Port Authority executive director Kenneth Ringler said the World Trade Center Transportation Hub would be the Grand Central Terminal of lower Manhattan.

Initially, the hub would serve about 80,000 commuters a day but that could increase to as much as 250,000 by 2020, officials said. "We are transforming lower Manhattan in a way that's respectful but in a way that also is going to be the centerpiece of global financial activity in the 21st century," Gov. George Pataki said at yesterday's groundbreaking. "This hub is the cornerstone to that." Architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the soaring edifice, and his daughter, Sofia, 10, released two white doves to mark the occasion.

Construction won't start until next week to allow families of the Sept. 11 victims and others to mark the fourth anniversary of the attacks, Port Authority officials said. After those ceremonies, the Port Authority plans to cover the Twin Towers footprints to protect them during construction, Ringler said.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.,0,4143587.story?coll=ny-business-headlines

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