NEW YORK--At the south end of the "E" subway line exit, adjacent to
a still shuttered newsstand, light filters through nine surviving glass doors
from the former World Trade Center site.
A dusty sign overhead reads "PATH Trains to New Jersey."
By the weekend, the doors will be reconditioned and the old sign will be
cleaned. Nearby, new signs denoting the way to Newark, Journal Square and
Hoboken will be visible.
On late Sunday morning, for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, a PATH train
from New Jersey will pull into Lower Manhattan. The same eight PATH cars that
were the last to leave the World Trade Center with passengers before the Twin
Towers collapsed will pull into a temporary station at Ground Zero. Gov. James
E. McGreevey, New York Gov. George Pataki and other dignitaries will be aboard
the ceremonial train.
At 2 p.m., the line will reopen to the general public.
"The 9/11 terrorists altered a lot of lives," said Doug Klein, 41,
an equities trader from West Caldwell who rode PATH to the World Trade Center
for five years before getting a job in New Jersey after the attacks. "I
just think the PATH train reopening is just getting back to a way of life that a
lot of people were happy with and accustomed to. Having the PATH train made our
lives a bit easier if you worked downtown."
Klein plans to take his wife and two children on Sunday to the temporary PATH
station in Lower Manhattan -- the first public space to open where 2,752 people
Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates
PATH and owns the 16-acre Ground Zero site, consider completion of the $566
million project to restore rail service between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City
a signature moment in the overall redevelopment efforts that are expected to
last until 2015.
"It means a lot because of all the personnel losses that we had
here," said Louis Menno, the project's program director for the Port
Authority, which lost 84 people on 9/11. "We just want to restore it."
More than 65,000 commuters from New Jersey traveled the PATH daily to the
original World Trade Center station before Sept. 11, 2001, but officials expect
only 20,000 to 30,000 to resume riding immediately. The temporary station has a
capacity of 50,000 daily riders.
Though it is temporary, efforts were made to give the primarily concrete and
steel station a sense of place and some artistic touches.
Near the corner of Church and Vesey streets, at the northeast corner of the
site, an enormous cantilevered, steel-truss canopy with suspended letters
spelling out "World Trade Center PATH Station" greets passengers.
"The sense that you have when you're walking under it is that it's
floating above you," said Robert Davidson, the Port Authority's chief
architect. "The canopy was developed to be the first public landmark on the
Coming down the entrance stairs from street level, passengers will encounter
the upper concourse before descending on the huge bank of nine new escalators,
which are on the original foundations that survived the attack. On the station's
mezzanine level, passengers will see various huge aerial photos of Lower
Davidson said the aim was to create "volumes of space that would make
the public feel good when they arrive."
Turnstiles will accept PATH cards and subway MetroCards, the first time they
can be used to ride PATH. Access to the A,C, E and the N, R, W subway lines is
available from the station.
The platforms will accept eight-car trains, with the five tracks configured
exactly as they were before the attack. State-of-the-art tracks without ties
that offer a smoother ride and less maintenance have been installed on the four
In deference to victims' family members, the views of Ground Zero's pit from
the mezzanine and platform levels have been mostly covered with plastic sheeting
and screens with inspirational quotes about the city.
But Anthony Gardner of Wayne, a member of the Coalition of 9/11 Families,
took issue with the Port Authority's decision to call the station by its old
World Trade Center name rather than designating it a memorial station as some
"We view that as an insult because the World Trade Center was destroyed
on Sept. 11," said Gardner, who lost his brother, Harvey, in the attack.
Eventually, the temporary station will be molded into downtown's $1.7 billion
futuristic transportation hub to be designed by Spanish architect Santiago
Calatrava and slated to open in late 2006.
For Klein, the former PATH commuter, the milestone has stirred thoughts of a
job transfer back across the Hudson.
"This is the first time I'm even entertaining working in Manhattan
again," said Klein. "The PATH reopening will definitely have a lot to
do with my decision. I just felt the commute to Midtown is much, much
Ron Marsico covers the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan redevelopment.
He may be reached at email@example.com or (973) 392-7860.