The Port Authority's
controversial plan to build two new exits at
PATH train stations in the West Village may
have been derailed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency
has slammed the brakes on the project for at
least three months - saying it's unclear
whether the $29.6 million construction job is
a wise use of Sept. 11 relief funds.
FEMA says it won't bankroll the project
unless the Port Authority - which runs the
rail line between New Jersey and Manhattan
- spends more time on studies and involves
the public, The Post has learned.
"There's a limited amount of funding, and we
want to make sure it's all well spent," said
Brad Gair, FEMA's top official in New York
for 9/11 relief.
FEMA listened to protests by West Village
residents and businesspeople who said the
PA was railroading a "boondoggle" that will
hurt the neighborhood.
FEMA now wants more information on the
construction's impact on the neighborhood's
brownstones, cafes, boutiques and the
Stonewall Historic District, the only national
landmark honoring gays and lesbians.
Opponents of the project are elated by
"That $30 million should be used to rebuild
New York, not further destroy it," said West
Village resident David Ryan.
The neighborhood protests have also caught
the attention of FEMA's inspector general's
office, which looks into waste and abuse of
In a letter to the PA, Gair said the agency
must fully comply with federal
environmental and historic-preservation
laws. That could take at least three or four
months and should include public review and
comment, he said.
The PA had hoped to break ground this
Use of the West Village PATH stops has
doubled since 9/11, when the World Trade
Center station was destroyed.
But Gair said that by the time the new exits
are built, it could be less than six months
before the projected opening of a new WTC
station in December 2003.
That's not a "reasonable benefit to displaced
commuters," he said.
The PA insists second exits at the West
Village stops are still needed to evacuate
riders more quickly in case of a fire or
another terrorist attack. "We still think it's a
safety issue," said PA spokesman Steve
He said the agency will use its own
capital-improvement funds if FEMA doesn't
hand over the money.
Opponents say a solution already exists: The
PA should run express trains to the next stop
north, at 14th Street, which has double
platforms and quick connections to subway
lines going in several directions.
At Christopher Street and West Ninth Street,
commuters must climb long stairwells to the
street, then walk three blocks to a subway.