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Short and long-term plans to rebuild PATH
By: Josh Rogers
Port Authority officials said they won't have time for neatness in their rush to rebuild the World Trade Center PATH commuter station by Dec. 2003 and they also outlined their long-term plans to build a $2-billion pedestrian tunnel linking Battery Park City to Lower Manhattan's East Side as well as to all nearby subway stations at a Community Board 1 meeting last week.
"The construction is going to be rough and dirty," said Robert Davidson, the P.A.'s chief architect. "We just need to make it happen quickly."

The temporary station will cost $540 million and the project includes improvements to the Exchange Pl. station in New Jersey, because the temporary station at ground zero will not have the same type of turnaround track. The Manhattan station will also not have amenities such as air-conditioning.

Commuters will rise from a 60-foot escalator, and then walk east on a pedestrian bridge, possibly overlooking construction at ground zero. Davidson said the open-air, covered bridge will allow construction at the W.T.C. site.

The escalator would rise from its old location, up to where the Trade Center's J Crew store used to be, then up to the old Borders location. The pedestrian bridge will leave pedestrians on Church St., which will be more inconvenient to workers going west to the World Financial Center and reverse commuters returning to Battery Park City. Davidson said there were certain trade-offs to get the new station done quickly, but the pedestrian tunnel would run from the W.F.C.'s Winter Garden to Broadway and could have a moving walkway.

"If we do it right, it will be more like an airport than a transit complex," Davidson said immediately after the meeting. Of the temporary design, he said: "We think it has the flexibility to accommodate any of the development that could occur in the site."

Anthony Cracchiolo, the Port's director of capital projects, said the pedestrian tunnel would likely cost between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion. The Port Authority has budgeted the money to build the temporary PATH. station and to study the pedestrian tunnel idea.

"We're trying to really plan out the permanent station to build it in a way that we hope will be better than it was before Sept. 11," said Cracchiolo. He said the temporary plan may become part of the permanent plan.

"A permanent station could build on the temporary station or it could move to somewhere else on the site," he said.

Cracchiolo said PATH used to serve 65,000 passenger trips a day, which represents at least 32,000 people. He said with the destruction of the Twin Tower offices, ridership to the PATH station would obviously be down if the PATH station reopened tomorrow, but in 2003, the World Financial Center will be reopened as will most of the offices near the Trade Center.

The tunnel would have convenient links to the 1,9, A,C,E and N,R stations near the Trade center as well as to the Broadway-Nassau-Fulton stations to the east. He said the Metropolitan Transit Authority is considering a long-term project to make better pedestrian links to those east side stations.

The tunnel would allow for large areas of retail space, which could replace some of the W.T.C. underground mall. It would not be opened for at least four or five years.

Cracchiolo told members there has been a lot of coordination with the M.T.A., which is controlled by Gov. George Pataki. "We worked closely with the M.T.A. to get to this point," he said.

The P.A., controlled by the New York and New Jersey governors, owns the ground zero land and has leased it to developer Larry Silverstein. Pataki has also set up the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to plan Lower Manhattan's future. There has been some confusion over precisely how all of the agencies will interact. n an interview a week ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he didn't think there would be problems since Pataki controls the L.M.D.C., the M.T.A. and Trade Center-related P.A. issues. Neighborhood people at last week's meeting reacted favorably to the plans.

David Stanke, a B.P.C. resident, said he liked the designs, but he asked officials consider a PATH exit further to the west.

Members applauded officials, which raised the eyebrows of Paul Goldstein, the community board's veteran district manager:. "Wow, applause for the Port Authority."

©Downtown Express 2002

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