The Port Authority said
last week that it will conduct a full environmental
impact review before moving forward with new exits at
the Christopher Street and
Ninth Street PATH stations. New exits were planned for
the Greenwich Village
stations to ease overcrowding that has resulted from
the destruction of the
World Trade Center station.
At Christopher Street, where crowding is particularly
problematic, the Port
Authority has had to institute a peak-direction
station .Passengers are not allowed
to enter trains there during the morning rush period,
because so many people are
getting out of trains. Afternoon rush hour trains from
Newark to 33rd Street also
bypass the station.
Construction on the new exits was originally scheduled
to begin in July and would
have been funded with Federal Emergency Management
Agency aid. Federal law
does not require a detailed environmental assessment
for the project, but the Port
Authority has apparently decided to conduct one due to
community groups that oppose the exits.
A spokesman from FEMA told Newsday that, in order to
be considered beneficial
enough to receive emergency aid, the exits would have
to be completed at least
six months before PATH service resumes downtown.
Officials are now speculating
that the temporary downtown station will open at the
end of 2003.
The Port Authority has also indicated that it would
pursue the project with other
types of federal funding, or by dedicating some of its
own capital funds to the
planning and construction. Conducting a full review of
the project will likely add a
year to its start date, making its eligibility for
FEMA aid unlikely, and its help
for disappointed commuters too far away.