|NEW YORK (CNN) --The first major
construction project has been completed at the site of the World Trade
Center twin towers.
The rebuilt temporary station for the
train that carries commuters from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan, known
as PATH, opened Sunday with a ceremonial ride carrying New Jersey Gov.
Jim McGreevey and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"We come here today with mixed
emotions," McGreevey said at a ceremony marking the train's
arrival. "We come today also to recognize, to witness this great
resumption of traffic."
The train used for the ride was the
last train out of the World Trade Center station on September 11,
2001, and was used as a rescue vehicle to evacuate the last people
standing on the old platform before the South Tower collapsed.
"Those same eight cars that left
the station on that fateful morning will be the first to come
back," said New York Gov. George Pataki on October 30 during a
preview of the PATH train project.
Pataki was scheduled to participate
in the ceremony but canceled due to what aides said was "an awful
case of the flu." The governor is "very disappointed that he
could not be at Ground Zero on this very important day," aides
The Port Authority of New York and
New Jersey, the transportation agency that runs PATH and owns the
trade center site, spent $566 million on the project, which included
replacing tracks in tunnels underneath the Hudson River and the
opening of the Exchange Place Station in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"People that lived in New Jersey
and worked downtown had a really horrendous commute for the last two
years," Bloomberg said. "It's part of the rebuilding
process. We're not going to forget those we lost, but we're not going
to let the terrorists win either."
The infrastructure underground,
including the tracks and tunnels, are permanent, but the above ground
structure is temporary.
A permanent structure is expected to
open by the end of 2006. That will include a more finished station
with amenities such as heat and bathrooms.
By 2009, the WTC PATH station stop
will reconnect with all of the other subway lines in New York City.
An average of 67,000 daily commuters
boarded the train before September 11.
The Port Authority estimates 20,000
to 30,000 passengers will ride the trains by the end of 2004. The fall
in ridership is attributed to less office space in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority expects ridership to increase as more jobs return
to the area.
The re-opening of the PATH station
comes just four days after eight designs were announced as finalists
in the World Trade Center memorial competition. (Full
The designs are on display and open
to the public at the World Financial Center located across the street
from the PATH station.