Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Big Transit Ideas Downtown PATH, subway
links, store concourse eyed
By PETE DONOHUE and GREG GITTRICH
Daily News Staff Writers
The state-city agency charged with rebuilding lower Manhattan
will explore creating a downtown transit hub along the lines of
Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, the board chairman said
yesterday. John Whitehead, head of the Lower Manhattan
Redevelopment Corp., said rebuilding and improving mass transit
links around the World Trade Center site is a priority for the
Transit repair would be addressed in two broad phases.
Short-term emergency needs — the resumption of PATH train and
subway service — would be completed as quickly as possible,
Whitehead said at the agency's second meeting. At the same time,
the agency would explore constructing a "central terminal
... akin to the
major terminals that are uptown," Whitehead said. The Long
Island Rail Road could be connected to the terminal, but nothing
has been decided.
An East-West Passage
Several preliminary concepts are being worked on. The most
detailed, coming from the Port Authority, envisions an
underground mega-hub with connections to the PATH and 14 subway
lines, and retail space similar to what was in the destroyed
World Trade Center concourse. Stretching 3,000 feet, the
originate at the World Financial Center along West St. — near
expanded commuter ferry slips on the Hudson River — and extend
to William St. on the east side. Customers could whisk through
the hub on airport-style people movers to reach shops, a new
PATH station below Ground Zero or subway stops — the 1 and 9
lines on the west side, the N and R trains at Church St. and the
2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, M and Z lines at the
Broadway-Nassau/Fulton St. station.
That station, a dingy depot that connects a tangle of subway
lines initially constructed to be separate, also would receive a
facelift and be expanded to include more retail space. "The
idea is to replicate what we did at the World Trade Center over
at Fulton," said Chris Ward, the PA's chief of strategic
we are going to build a great PATH station, there also should be
something similar on the east side."
About 70,000 subway riders a day pass through turnstiles into
the Broadway-Nassau / Fulton St. station. Tens of
thousands more transfer there. Metropolitan Transportation
Authority spokesman Tom Kelly said the agency is
working with the PA to develop a subway-PATH plan but added that
the concepts were in "preliminary stages."
"The MTA will go along with whatever the ultimate decision
is by the redevelopment agency," he said.
Bringing Downtown Back
The PA has estimated that building a PATH station would cost
about $1.5 billion and take four to five years. In the meantime,
it will construct a temporary station with an entrance on Church
St. that could be open in 18 months to two years. The
possibility of better rail connections and a renovated
Broadway-Nassau/Fulton St. station was praised by Gene
Russianoff, staff attorney with the Straphangers Campaign.
"It seems to me there is a consensus that transportation is
key to bringing downtown back," he said. "If you want
to attract people, you have to make it better than it was, and
better means better connections."
Transit Hub Considered For Downtown
A transit hub similar to Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal
could be included in plans to rebuild Downtown Manhattan.
At its second meeting Monday, the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment
Corporation said it is exploring the possibility
of creating a station that connects the PATH train and sup to
six subway lines.
"If a new terminal is built at that location around Church
Street where there was an old terminal years ago, then we would
have better interconnecting between people who are commuting
from the PATH and extending their travel onto New York City
transit," said Charles Gargano of the commission.
The terminal would come complete with moving walkways and
a new mall similar to the one that was under the World Trade
Center. John Whitehead, the chairman of the commission,
said the first priority is to restore subway and PATH service in
the area with stopgap measures. The Port Authority plans
to begin construction on a temporary PATH station with an
entrance on church street. Officials hopes to open the station
in 18 months.
The PATH tubes underneath the World Trade Center and some nearby
subway tunnels were crushed in the collapse of the twin towers
September 11. The only
PATH service now available is on the line along Sixth Avenue to
Another ambitious measure under consideration is extending the
Long Island Railroad from Brooklyn into the new terminal.
Gargano said that an existing C subway line could be used to
accommodate the Long Island Railroad coming in from Brooklyn. To
complete the connection, he said, the city would have to build a
section of tunnel to Lower Manhattan.
A feasibility study conducted by the MTA last summer concluded
that the multi-billion dollar price tag for extending the
commuter rail line would be too high.
The report said that the money would be better spent on a full
length Second Avenue subway line. "You have so many
competing needs that are really
expensive," said Beverly Dolinsky of the Transit Riders
Council. "We need to look at this in terms of cost-benefit.
There are a number of people who would benefit. There are other
things that take priority."
While the MTA declined to comment on camera, officials at the
agency echoed the same concerns, saying that a Long Island
Railroad connection to Downtown would be too expensive,
especially considering the limited number of people who would