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 The PATH to a Stronger Lower Manhattan

 July 11, 2003

Inside the new temporary PATH station at the World Trade Center site, eight silver escalators eagerly await crowds of  downtown commuters. They stand only one shy of the nine that used to accommodate 67,000 people each day, and together are a sign of the Port Authority's progress on the facility, which is scheduled to open this November.

The $224 million, four-level station will be the first structure completed on the 16-acre WTC site, and will reestablish the vital link between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, where the Exchange Place terminal reopened on June 29. The agency anticipates that foot traffic through the temporary WTC station will quickly approach pre-9/11 levels.

Visitors to Ground Zero can witness the steady progress through the 10-foot-tall steel fence along Church Street. Dozens of workers in orange vests and hard hats are busy installing the train tracks' third rail, setting up electrical equipment, connecting wiring, and smoothing concrete. What may be harder to see is the enthusiasm among them to get the station open as soon as possible.

PATH station - aerial
Temporary PATH station is scheduled to open at WTC site in about four months
For Lou Menno, program director for the PATH restoration project, the efficiency of the station's reconstruction crews has been remarkable, and reflects the shared desire of many downtowners to bring prosperity back to the historic area. "We've accomplished a lot in this short period [since 9/11]," he says. "The whole team has been gung-ho -- I can't explain it, but I know we all feel like it's our contribution to the area."

Menno said he expects the station to serve as a catalyst for the local economy. "Once the PATH is up and running here again," he said, "it's going to help trigger even more rebuilding for Lower Manhattan."

The presence of the original Twin Towers inspired additional growth downtown, asserts Menno, who has worked for the WTC since 1973 and served as its general manager before 9/11. "Battery Park City and the World Financial Center were developed as a result of it, along with many other commercial office buildings in the area."

Menno cites the WTC's abundant public concerts, retail mall, and partnerships with local cultural organizations. The [World Trade] Center, he says, was just that -- a true center of activity for the Lower Manhattan community.

"We were successful in making the complex and integral part of downtown," he adds. "Now our goal is to get it back to the point where it was."


The PATH station is one key to that restoration. Although the structure is only temporary, the expected surge of traffic to the area will be a boon, especially for small businesses. Anticipation mounts as people register the progress toward completion: The station is now covered; entry stairs from Church Street are already under construction, and two 60-foot-tall stanchions, which will support a canopy above the entrance, are now in place.

"We're getting close," says Menno. "We've already pushed a clearance train through the tunnels [under the Hudson River]. The PATH folks will soon be getting the signals up, then begin operational testing for the tracks and the station's many operating systems."

By making provisions for the future, Menno says, the station will more easily be transformed into a permanent station (the designs for which are still preliminary), and will once again connect with neighboring subway stations, as well as the proposed Fulton Street Transit Center.

Until then, Lower Manhattan will continue to practice patience, and look forward to the future.

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