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PATH arrival at The Pit is solemn triumph

 By GREG GITTRICH DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

A PATH train, carrying only a conductor and an engineer, zipped under the Hudson River and eased into a bare-bones station at Ground Zero yesterday. The commuter train came to a stop at 1:42 p.m. - weeks ahead of schedule.

There was no fanfare. No political speeches. But the moment foreshadowed a significant triumph in the long, hard recovery of lower Manhattan.

It also marked a painful moment for some who lost loved ones and consider the disaster site sacred ground.

When the seven-car test train rolled into The Pit yesterday, Patricia Reilly, whose sister Lorraine Lee died in the attacks, began to cry.

"We never got any of my sister back," Reilly said as she stared at the train. "Just her pocketbook."

Following $566 million in repairs, PATH will resume normal service to the World Trade Center site next month, allowing thousands of commuters to get to and from the city's southern tip with greater ease. Final checks - including three test runs of the train yesterday - are being completed to remove any glitches.

"The reopening of the PATH will be a momentous occasion and a true milestone, as we continue to rebuild and revitalize lower Manhattan," said Mollie Fullington, a spokeswoman for Gov. Pataki.

About 67,000 riders took PATH to the Trade Center daily before a pair of hijacked jets destroyed the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

No one died in PATH tubes or stations during the attacks, although an empty train at the Trade Center was buried under debris.

The century-old, cast-iron tunnels held strong, but water from broken mains flooded the tubes all the way to Jersey City, short-circuiting electrical systems. Roughly 18,600 feet of new track had to be laid, some trespassing on the twin towers' footprints, where the vast majority of dead were recovered.

A coalition of victims' families opposes a Port Authority plan to expand the PATH station to accommodate more trains by 2006. The $2 billion terminal would encroach on both footprints.

"If they leave the station [configured] the way it is now, we will not be upset," said Jack Lynch, whose son Michael, a firefighter, died at Ground Zero.

"This is difficult," he added, staring at the train.

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/129782p-116023c.html

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