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P{ATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR October 16, 2007 -- THE Port Authority's new, $2.2 billion-plus PATH terminal at Ground Zero won't be finished until 2012 at the earliest - at least a year later than the PA claims, and at least three years behind the project's projected partial opening - predicts Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Chairman Avi Schick. 

"I don't think anybody expects it to be done before 2012," Schick told us yesterday. "That's not a delay, it's just reality." 

At a Crain's Business breakfast last week, Schick said a planned cultural building at Ground Zero couldn't be started until the new, Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH station was finished - which he said wouldn't be "until 2012 or 2013." 

The bombshell somehow went overlooked by groggy early-morning guests. 

Prior to this year, downtown rebuilding officials had said the dramatic new station - which is officially called the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and features bird-like "wings" that can open and close - would be finished in 2009. 

More recently, the PA has said the terminal would "open in phases" starting in 2009. 

The LMDC's Web site also says that it will "open" that year and be completed in 2011. 

When asked to clarify the timetable, PA spokesman Mark Lavorgna said yesterday that 2009 "is the operational, opening date," with completion in 2011. 

What does that mean? 

"In 2009, at some point, I can walk down into the station and get on a PATH train," Lavorgna said. "But other things like the wings won't be done yet." 

In other words, it might be a long time before the new station starts to resemble the images first shown to the public in 2004. 

Lavorgna declined to comment on Schick's prediction the job wouldn't be finished until 2012 or 2013. 

Last February, The Post's Tom Topousis reported the station's initial $2.2 billion cost - more than the budget for the 1,776-foot tall Freedom Tower - had swelled to $3.4 billion. 

That prompted PA Executive Director Anthony Shorris to announce a major "value engineering effort to bring the project in close to its estimated value," while still preserving main elements of Calatrava's design.  

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