The projected cost for the World Trade Center's new transit hub has soared to $3.4 billion - about $1 billion more than first estimated - prompting the Port Authority to order major cost cutting of the project.
PA officials say the latest estimates by the contractor, Phoenix Constructors, are based on old designs for the project and may overstate the cost.
But the agency's executive director, Anthony Shorris, yesterday ordered "a major value engineering effort to bring the project in close to its estimated value."
The transportation hub, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was estimated to cost between $2.2 billion and $2.5 billion, with the federal government picking up $1.9 billion of that cost while the PA was slated to pay the balance using insurance funds.
The project, which would serve PATH trains and, later, a rail link to Kennedy Airport, is one of the most distinctive structures proposed for the World Trade Center, with a roof formed by a pair of soaring wings that open and close.
In a letter to PA Chairman Anthony Coscia yesterday, Shorris said he has warned the contractor about the new cost estimate.
"We have notified Phoenix that costs so substantially above the original budget for the hub are simply unacceptable, and we will need to consider a range of options for completing the project," Shorris wrote.
He said any change in the transit hub's design would not affect the project's general appearance and would be developed with Calatrava.
"I can assure you that staff will work intensely in the coming weeks to manage the project's costs while preserving the overall integrity of the design, including retaining the signature 'wing' component at street level," he said.
Any increase in cost over the $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion estimate would need the approval of the PA's board of commissioners.
The project is slated to be open by 2009 and Shorris said work is continuing on schedule on the foundation and a new platform.