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 'It's much more than a PATH station,' audience told of plans at WTC site

 Thursday, June 24, 2004 By Wendy Mbekelu Jersey Journal staff writer

 
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey presented plans to the public in Jersey City Tuesday night for the permanent World Trade Center PATH station.

Louis Menno, a PATH program director, gave a half-hour presentation summarizing the findings of a draft environmental impact statement in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. He said the Port Authority built the temporary station now in use in Lower Manhattan as quickly as possible following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 but that the station will be unable to meet the long-term needs of PATH commuters.

Ridership is projected to exceed pre-Sept. 11 levels by 25 percent, he said, and without an infusion of capital, operations at the temporary station will have to cease sometime between 2009 and 2025, according to the report. The permanent station will accommodate 81,000 passengers per day, up from the current 50,000, he said.

The number of pedestrian connections to New York City subways will increase - connections to the 1/9, 4/5, J/M/Z lines will be available, along with existing connections, to the R/W, A/C/E, 2/3 lines - and access will be provided to memorial that will be built at the site.

"It is much more than a PATH station," said Steve Coleman, the Port Authority spokesman. "What we are building there is a transportation hub that will greatly benefit commuters by allowing them to easily connect from the PATH to other modes of transportation. Currently those connections do not exist." One debate is whether to construct the permanent terminal with or without a pedestrian connection to Liberty Park Plaza. According to the report, that will have no effect on the design or the construction schedule but, without a connection, pedestrian traffic will increase at Liberty and Church streets.

The Port Authority, in conjunction with the Federal Transportation Authority, will work to minimize adverse environmental impacts by installing barriers to reduce noise, fitting machinery with mufflers and using sulfur-free fuels. The bi-state agency is also working closely with preservation groups to minimize effects on historic and archeological structures.

At City Hall on Tuesday night, computer monitors flickered with images of the completed terminal, showing a glass, steel, and concrete structure built to capture the maximum amount of natural light and to give commuters views of adjacent buildings. Unlike the current terminal, the permanent hub will be climate-controlled. It is slated to open in 2006. An audience of less than 20, most of them Port Authority staff, came out for Tuesday's meeting.

"I'd be lying if I said we wouldn't be using this facility, it's new and improved, but we feel it is a missed opportunity not to connect to the Upper East Side," said John Bowen, president of the New Jersey Railroad Passengers Association, during the public comment period.

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