Gov. George E. Pataki outlined a long-awaited plan yesterday to spend up to $5 billion to restore and upgrade transportation in Lower Manhattan, including new above-ground hubs at the World Trade Center site and at the Fulton Street subway stations, as well as a rebuilt subway terminal at South Ferry.
Several of the projects — which together would be one of the largest public transit efforts in city history — would require significant excavation that could disrupt commuters and downtown traffic patterns through the end of the decade.
Mr. Pataki outlined the projects in a letter to federal officials overseeing the $21 billion in aid promised to New York to recover from the 9/11 terrorist attack. It calls for construction to begin next year and continue through at least 2007 in the case of the subway projects, and 2009 for the trade center project.
"It's going to be a huge construction site," said Iris Weinshall, the city transportation commissioner, adding, "We're going to have to play traffic cop down there for all those competing interests."
The projects have been the subject of weeks of contentious negotiations among officials, including Governor Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Perhaps reflecting those disagreements, the letter calls for up to $5.15 billion in projects, although only $4.55 billion in federal money is available so far.
"Of course," said Mollie Fullington, a spokeswoman for the governor, "we also would benefit from more federal funding." She said the governor's office would continue to work with President Bush, Congress and Joe M. Allbaugh, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to find more financing.
Since last fall, federal officials have been seeking details about how officials plan to use the money. Mr. Pataki's letter presents the first definitive estimates of the cost and the construction schedule.
The plan essentially calls for the improvement of existing transit lines downtown but does not propose any new commuter connections, disappointing some business leaders who have said that greater access to downtown is crucial to the revival of Lower Manhattan. Although Mr. Pataki lists a "fast, convenient" link to the region's airports as a priority, it sets aside no specific money either to study or to build that connection.
Still, some officials praised the governor's plans. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who has criticized some of the transportation proposals floated in recent weeks, said yesterday that Mr. Pataki "is focusing on the big proposals that are most needed to make downtown a transportation center."
The largest of the projects includes up to $2 billion for the transportation hub at the trade center site. It would include an expanded terminal for the PATH commuter line, new connections to the subway lines that stop nearby, and a new transit hall that officials have called a "downtown Grand Central."
Little more than a block to the east, the $750 million Fulton Street Transit Center would reconfigure the stations that serve the nine different subway lines stopping there. It would also provide another above-ground building with a central entrance to all the lines.
Joining the two stations would be an underground concourse stretching nearly half a mile from the Fulton Street center to the World Financial Center. Its cost is included in those of the two transportation hubs.
Another $400 million would go toward a new three-track, two-platform terminal at South Ferry, for the 1 and 9 subway lines, with underground connections to the Whitehall subway station and the new Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
An additional $1.7 billion to $2 billion would be spread among several projects, including $500 million for bus facilities and street restoration at the trade center site.
Dollar amounts were not specified for the other projects, among them the restoration of West Street, which Mr. Pataki's letter said was likely to include "the tunneling of some portion" of the street, most likely the stretch alongside the trade center site, from Vesey Street to Liberty Street.
Several proposals outlined last year by Mayor Bloomberg were also included in the letter but without time or cost estimates. Those include new ferry terminals around Lower Manhattan and in New Jersey and elsewhere, and decking over the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which would "allow for the creation of a new park and residential community."
While the letter says "a number of airport access service alternatives are currently under study," it gives no further details. It does not mention the $250 million that state and city officials previously said they planned to set aside to study those alternatives. Nor does it say anything about Mr. Bloomberg's $3.7 billion proposal to create a one-seat ride to Kennedy Airport from Lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the East River to the Long Island Railroad.
Ms. Fullington, the governor's spokeswoman, said that a working group of transportation officials was "reassessing the viability of that number." And both she and Jennifer Falk, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bloomberg, said the airport link "absolutely" remained a priority.
For all the wrangling between state and city officials over the final scope of the transit plans, the governor's vision for uniting the subway and PATH lines looks remarkably like the plan originally conceived by the Port Authority shortly after the attack. That plan envisioned knitting together the area's disconnected transit lines by building an east-west underground passageway 50 feet wide and 2,500 feet long, with moving walkways and perhaps shops and stores.
City officials and downtown community groups have looked warily on those concourse plans, fearing that the Port Authority wanted an underground mall similar to the previous trade center concourse; they prefer retail stores to be at ground level and open to the street. One city official said the part of the concourse from the trade center site to the World Financial Center would benefit too few people to justify the cost.
The governor's letter makes clear that the projects would spread new construction zones throughout downtown for years to come. Some of the heaviest construction would be at the Fulton Street subway complex, where more than 275,000 riders pass through every weekday.
Transit officials said yesterday that they do not foresee rerouting trains or bypassing the stations during construction, in part because there are few ways to alter service through the complex, but construction would sometimes close stairways and passages, making transfers much more difficult.
Commissioner Weinshall also noted that a $140 million project to repair sewers, water mains and other parts of streets was under way in Lower Manhattan. That is expected to keep dozens of streets torn up for the next few years, she said.
"It's going to be a challenge to keep everything moving down here," Ms. Weinshall said, "but the city still is open for business."