|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
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.
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."
PATH station is scheduled to open at WTC
site in about four months
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
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
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
Until then, Lower Manhattan will
continue to practice patience, and look forward
to the future.