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    Groundbreaking For Ground Zero Transit Hub

Sep 6, 2005 3:52 pm US/Eastern (1010 WINS) (NEW YORK)


The release of two doves representing Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's birdlike design for a transit hub at the World Trade Center site marked Tuesday's ceremonial groundbreaking for the $2.2 billion project.

The governors and all four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Mayor Michael Bloomberg all joined Calatrava to mark the beginning of construction of the station that will eventually carry more than 80,000 commuters a day between downtown Manhattan and New Jersey. ``Today we begin to take back a site to restore something that was taken away from us on Sept. 11,'' said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site and commissioned the project. Gov. George Pataki called the winged steel-and-glass dome with a retractable roof ``a transportation hub worthy of the 21st century.''

Construction on the site is actually to begin on Monday to accommodate preparations for Sunday's ceremony to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, an agency spokesman said. Officials said they plan groundbreakings within the next six months at the site on both the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and a memorial.

The transit hub, scheduled to open in late 2009, will also link the PATH commuter rail lines to city subway lines and ferries. A temporary PATH station opened in November 2003, replacing the station that was destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attack. The doves released at the site represented Calatrava's initial inspiration for the design, a drawing of a child releasing a bird, which he said would evoke new life, flight and hope. Politicians also signed one of the first metal train rails that will be laid at the site.

Calatrava presented a modified design for the hub in July, 18 months after unveiling his design, to address security concerns. Twice as many steel ribs will enclose the transit hall in the new design, reducing the amount of glass that would be exposed to a bomb blast. Also, the glass was removed from between the ribs of the 150-foot-high wings on either side of the hub.

Nearly $2 billion of the hub's budget comes from the Federal Transit Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation that provides financial assistance to develop, maintain and operate transit systems.

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