NEW YORK CITY -- Less than two months after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks destroyed much of the PATH system, the
Port Authority announced an ambitious $544 million plan to
rebuild it in 24 months, according to this report by Judy Rife
that appeared in the Times Herald-Record.
Now, the agency is prepared to reopen the Exchange Place
station on June 29 -- on schedule -- and the World Trade
Center station in November -- ahead of schedule.
"It turns out we make good guesstimates in 2001 but we're
making even better progress than we expected," said Steve
Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey. "As a result, we're going to be able to push
the opening [of the World Trade Center station] up by about
a month, to November, probably late November, from
For commuters from Orange and Rockland counties, the
news that the WTC station will reopen ahead of schedule has
a special resonance. NJ Transit, which operates Metro-North
Railroad's west-of-Hudson trains, has now tied the
much-delayed opening of the Secaucus transfer to this
restoration of PATH service.
The $450 million transfer station, under construction since
1995, will give upstate commuters a choice of destinations
for the first time -- a choice that has become more critical
since 9/11 because so many companies have relocated to
Midtown from lower Manhattan.
At Secaucus, commuters will have the option of transferring
to trains to Penn Station in Midtown or they may remain on
their trains and continue to Hoboken and take PATH or NY
Waterway ferries across the Hudson River to the city.
"I find it hard to believe that NJ Transit will be prepared but
then again, we've been paying more money (Metro-North's
25 percent fare increase on May 1) without anything to show
for it -- not our new rail cars, not our revised schedules -- so
nothing seems to surprise me anymore," said Susan Sodano
of Chester, who worked in the World Trade Center and now
works in Midtown.
The destruction of the WTC station forced 65,000 of PATH's
210,000 customers to find another way to get from New
Jersey to lower Manhattan. Many of them migrated to a
combination of PATH's other line, to 33rd Street, and then
the subway, or switched to one of the new ferry routes.
But the Port Authority still worried that inaccessibility would
become a reason for companies not to return to lower
Manhattan and so moved quickly to rebuild the PATH system
-- albeit temporarily, pending future decisions about a new
transit hub connecting ferries, subways and PATH.
In January 2002, it awarded construction contracts that
contained an accelerated work schedule for the Exchange
Place and WTC stations and incentives for besting that
schedule. Work began in the two tunnels, which had been
flooded for six weeks, in March and in the "bathtub," the
70-foot deep foundation of the Twin Towers, as soon as they
were cleared of debris, in June.
The reopening of Exchange Place, Coleman said, is the
necessary first step in the reopening of the WTC line. The
New Jersey station, located at the entrance to the Hudson
River tunnels to Manhattan, had to be closed after 9/11
because trains could not longer turn around at the WTC and
get in and out of Exchange Place on the proper tracks. A link
between the inbound and outbound tracks has been added
at Exchange Place now for turnarounds.
The new signal system at Exchange Place alone has
consumed three senior Port Authority employees 12 hours a
day, seven days a week, since February. Coleman said the
men volunteered for the project as their contribution to the
Port Authority's and the region's recovery from the terrorist
For city-bound commuters who arrive at Penn Station in
Newark on Amtrak or NJ Transit, the reopening of Exchange
Place will ease overcrowding on their PATH trains.
Since 9/11, they have had to rely on the 33rd line to reach
Manhattan -- just like commuters who arrive at Hoboken
Terminal to the north. Now, they'll be able to get off at
Exchange Place and take a ferry to the World Financial
Center -- shaving about 15 minutes off their commutes.
(The preceding report by Judy Rife appeared in the Times
Herald-Record Monday, June 9, 2003.)
June 9, 2003