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Some 9/11 Aid to Fund Train Hub

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer Fri Aug 9, 7:25 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - Billions of dollars in aid earmarked for New York's recovery from Sept. 11 could be used to build a new train station near the World Trade Center site, under a plan federal and state officials were preparing to present Monday.

The new $4.5 billion station would connect New York City subway lines with PATH commuter trains to New Jersey, said federal government sources, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity. In essence, the plan loosens up billions of dollars in previously restricted aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( news - web sites).

The station could be a major shot in the arm for lower Manhattan as it recovers from the terrorist attacks that toppled the twin towers. Local officials are still working on a development plan for the 16-acre site.

New York City has $21.4 billion in the pipeline from Washington to help it recover from Sept. 11. The largest chunk of that money — almost $9 billion — is from FEMA; by law, there are many restrictions on how that money can be spent.

In negotiations in March with White House budget officials, Sen. Charles Schumer ( news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., lobbied to loosen restrictions on FEMA money. Schumer also secured $1.8 billion through the Department of Transportation.

"We need a Grand Central Station for lower Manhattan," Schumer said in a May speech before the Association for a Better New York in Manhattan. "If we want to make lower Manhattan a truly grand community, it needs a truly grand station."

FEMA aid has usually been used to rebuild structures as they existed before a disaster. New York officials have been reluctant to rebuild the lower Manhattan's transit system without making improvements.

A FEMA spokesman had no comment Friday.

Transportation projects are expected to eat up the largest portion of the New York aid. Some $7 billion in projects have already been identified.

Reuben Jeffrey, special adviser to the president on lower Manhattan redevelopment, told The Associated Press last week he expected "FEMA to play a significant financial and advisory role in restructuring the transportation grid of lower Manhattan."

He added that the transit system "will be built to 21st century standards for 21st century needs."

New York Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials are expected to make an announcement Monday.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020809/ap_on_re_us/attacks_transit_1

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