Closed since 9/11, Exchange Place PATH opens
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey took the PATH line to the Exchange Place station yesterday morning to celebrate the stop's first day back in service since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks shut it down.
The governor rode from Journal Square to Exchange Place beside family members of several victims. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg sat nearby and Sen. Jon Corzine stood holding a strap beside the governor. McGreevey dedicated the refurbished Exchange Place station to the victims.
"None of us will ever forget the events of Sept. 11 and the impact that tragic day had on the lives of so many of us," McGreevey said. "While that day will never be forgotten, the reopening of this station signifies our commitment to move forward, to rebuild and to restore the quality of life for our citizens.
"PATH is a vital lifeline for the thousands of New Jersey commuters who work in or travel to Manhattan each day but have the good sense to live in New Jersey," McGreevey said at a ceremony outside the Exchange Place Station.
The station at Exchange Place was closed because of flooding caused by broken pipes and fire fighting efforts at Ground Zero, said Port Authority Spokesman Steve Coleman. But more than repairs were needed.
In an effort to restore service to Exchange Place before a temporary station in Lower Manhattan opens in November, the Port Authority converted the "through-station" into a terminal, like the one at Hoboken. The World Trade Center had been the terminal for the line.
The Port Authority spent $160 million to expand the Exchange Place station to allow trains to turn around, said Coleman. The construction of the temporary WTC Station will cost $224 million.
PATH commuters can once again travel to Exchange Place on their way to Manhattan via ferry for just over $3. The ferries will run from Exchange Place to New York City every five minutes during morning and evening rush hours.
Trains from Newark to Exchange Place will also run on a five-minute schedule during peak hours, as will trains from Exchange Place to Hoboken, Coleman said.
The estimated time of a commute from Newark to Manhattan using the PATH to Exchange Place and then a ferry is 32 minutes, said Coleman.
Both corporate and local businesses around Exchange Place were pleased to see the station go back on-line.
"Seeing the barrier down will have a tremendous impact on all of us who work down here, to all of us who rely on Jersey City to make a living for our families," said Gene Wilson, president of Price Waterhouse Capital Markets at Exchange Place.
Andreas Diakos, owner of the Flamingo Diner near Exchange Place, said his business has been in a slump since Sept. 11 and he expects the reopening of the station will help bring people through his doors.
"It's gonna help a lot. It hurt us a lot that it was closed so long," said Diakos. "People will stop in to get coffee or something to eat, going both ways. When they get off the train, they will come in."
Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham also praised the reopening of the station and the effect it will have restoring Jersey City's "close economic ties to New York City."
Cunningham said it will also keep people from moving out of the area because transportation to New York City has become less convenient.
Lautenberg said the reopening of the station is a testament to the resilience of the American people.
"This is what happens when we suffer loss, we rebuild," said Lautenberg. "This is not just the reopening of a station, not just the reopening of a rail facility, it is also a commitment to the spirit of America."
Citing military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the senator said, "We must continue to rebuild to protect the freedom of this land. Don't forget, terrorism reached all the way to this spot. We must continue to rebuild, and rebuild and rebuild."
Michaelangelo Conte can be reached at email@example.com
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