Apr
26

Calatrava’s WTC hub costs may hit $3.8 billion

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Early renderings of the Calatrava hub show that $3.8 billion just doesn't go far these days.

The Port Authority’s Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH hub at the World Trade Center is becoming a transit boondoggle in the fullest sense of the phrase. Once projected to cost just $2.2 billion, the ornate station saw costs jump to $3.44 billion in February, and now, federal officials monitoring the project believe the hub could cost as much as $3.8 billion — or 70 percent above initial costs — when all is said and done.

Shawn Boburg of The Bergen Record first reported on the increases today. The hub, once set to open in 2011, may not wrap until March 2015, making it three months behind the current schedule. Boburg has more:

The report warns that — even after the controversial February increase — the “budget still does not appear adequate for the ultimate completion of the project.” It adds: “Recent discussions with the Port Authority” indicate a $3.8 billion final price tag. The 2005 budget for the project was $2.2 billion…

Officials at the Port Authority, the bi-state agency in charge of the federally funded project, brushed aside the estimate. “We remain confident in our budget” of $3.4 billion, spokesman John Kelly said.

And an official at the Federal Transit Administration, which is paying a majority of the hub expenses, stressed that the authority could still hit its current spending target if it manages the project properly…An FTA official said the $3.8 billion estimate included a “risk” assessment and was not certain.

FTA officials tried to downplay the bad news. “In its financial oversight role, the FTA is obligated to identify and measure risk associated with the PATH Hub project,” Brian Farber, the FTA’s associate administrator for communications and congressional affairs, said. “Having identified those risks, we still believe that if the Port Authority properly manages them, the project could meet the projected $3.4 billion budget.”

As costs escalate, the Port Authority will be expected to shoulder more and more of the funding burden. As Boburg notes, the FTA will fork over around $2.9 billion for the hub, and the Port Authority will have to foot the bill for nearly $1 billion more. Considering how the hub is largely cosmetic and does not serve to increase cross-Hudson rail capacity, this investment is growing more and more foolhardy by the quarter, and it highlights how misplaced the region’s transit spending priorities are these days.



Categories : PANYNJ

70 Responses to “Calatrava’s WTC hub costs may hit $3.8 billion”

  1. Eric F. says:

    Note that the ARC tunnel would have come in on budget. At least I think that is the party line over here, so let’s just ignore any wider implications of this fiasco.

    • No one is alleging that the ARC Tunnel would have come in at budget. But two points: This report — the FTA risk assessment — is the same type of report that torpedoed ARC. And at least ARC increased cross-Hudson capacity. This is just a waste of money.

      • Eric F. says:

        We’d probably both agree that a nice terminal could be a useful addition, but at this price it is surely a waste of money. For this money the PA could have added a Manhattan bus garage to the terminal and replaced the Goethals. What a shame…

        • Bolwerk says:

          But a bus garage isn’t an especially useful addition. Hell, neither is a new terminal. Why? There already is a terminal there, and it works fine. Billions$ are better spent building tracks north or east, but that isn’t as visible as a giant sculpture for some politicos with endowment issues.

          • Eric F. says:

            The bus garage annex to the PA bus terminal would be a crucial addition to regional infrastructure. Check out the PA bus terminal at rush hour some tiem and you’ll see what I mean.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Crowds aren’t always a sign things are working well; hell, they’re a sign things are not working well if those crowds are far from the final destinations of the passengers. Those buses should take people where they want to go, perhaps by making a few stops on a crosstown route. A big-ass terminal in a marginal part of town with a miserable transfer to the subways that take you to your final destination was a bad idea in the 1950s, and it’s a bad idea in 2011.

              • Eric F. says:

                That came out of the deepest corner of left field. You are actually advocating tearing down the terminal and having 160,000 people grab buses on the surface streets of Manhattan?

                • Bolwerk says:

                  What’s so complicated about this? Diffusing the suburban traffic across town and over a few cross streets would certainly make more sense than focusing it all on a complex of confusing terminals in a place nobody in their right mind wants to go. Spread it over a few cross-streets (or cross-street pairs) and from west side to east and probably the only dent 160,000 people probably would make is reduced congestion around 42nd & Eighth, and maybe more usage on some mediocre city bus services. The only reason it wouldn’t work is the PA and NYC/NYS/MTA and NJ/NJT won’t work together to make it work.

                  A smaller-scale terminal still makes sense for long-distance traffic I guess, but it probably belongs closer to Penn Station.

                  • Eric F. says:

                    Well, it’s 160,000 people and, you know, their buses.

                    I’d rather the PA have been built further inland, but it is where it is. Of course, under your logic, you’d run Metro North Trains at grade on Park Ave. and tear down Grand Central Station.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      No, MNRR actually brings most commuters about to where they want to go. That kind of logic probably is a bit more applicable to Penn Station, but the costs of making stations on the east side is prohibitive and at least the subway connections are kind of okay at Penn.* Better access to at-grade services from GCT and Penn would make sense to me. (A better mix of at-grade services too, with LRT and buses working together, if you want to get crazy.)

                      Anyway, 160,000 people diffused over (what, several dozen?) bus lines and multiple streets isn’t that much, it brings people closer to their workplaces or at least subway lines to their workplaces, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than a big bus terminal.

                      * The biggest problem with Penn might be that there isn’t a very good way to get to that area around 42nd Street between Bryant Park and Second Avenue where a huge proportion of Midtown’s employment is located.

  2. ferryboi says:

    Ben, it’s hysterical that SAS accepts advertisements from Dodge. You should have a corresponding ad showing how much free street space that Dodge Avenger takes up, and what it would cost to drive a Dodge to the city if congestion pricing/East River tolls were instituted. Don’t drive to Manhattan, but if you do, make it a Dodge! :)

  3. ferryboi says:

    “As costs escalate, the Port Authority will be expected to shoulder more and more of the funding burden.”

    And here’s how the PA saves some serious cash: http://www.silive.com/news/ind.....en_is.html

    • Al D says:

      This was the same way on the inbound Goethals the evening before (around 5:30). What a nightmare and glad that I wasn’t stuck in it.

      • ferryboi says:

        Agreed. Glad my Moms lives 2 miles away from me in Rosebank. An 8-minute ride down Bay Street was all.

        • al says:

          This just screams for high speed automated photo license plate recognition toll systems.

          • ferryboi says:

            And a new Outerbridge. Two 10-foot wide lanes, no shoulders, no emergency lanes, no HOV lanes, nothing but a bridge barely wide enough to handle Model T Fords, let alone tractor-trailers and thousands of cars.

  4. Jerrold says:

    “Considering how the hub is largely cosmetic…………how misplaced the region’s transit spending priorities are these days.”

    AMEN!

    • R. Graham says:

      Insanely cosmetic. The entire project contributes nothing new and would have been better off rebuilding what was lost and that’s it.

      • BBnet3000 says:

        Same with Moynihan. If we put the funding for both of these into functional projects, we could consider moving straight to stage 2 of SAS.

        I think most New Yorkers are fine with an ugly station that works. “Ugly station that works” essentially describes the whole transit system!

        Why didnt they use this Calatrava design for Fulton St and leave WTC as a standard station?

        • R. Graham says:

          Several reasons. There is no way the Calatrava design would fit in the Fulton Street lot.

          The Port Authority and FTA are paying for the Calatrava design while Washington is paying for the Fulton Street TC as it did with the South Ferry station.

          Someone going into overkill mode wanted something spectacular built as a PATH station and this is what we got. An overly priced entrance.

  5. David in NYC says:

    The $3.8 billion cost isn’t just for the Calatrava white ribbed structure above ground. Most of the cost will be all the infrastructure below.
    We can get rid of the beautifully designed structure but the cost will still be in the billions, think Fulton Transit Center.
    But once it’s built, it will be a world-recognized attraction far outshining the extra-boring One World Trade Center tower currently being built.
    Nothing great is cheap but this city could use something great beyond just another glass box.

    • R. Graham says:

      No way. This project is practically almost evenly split between above and below ground costs. Look at how much space above ground this thing is going to take up. They are adding what the PATH never had before and that’s above ground space and structure of their own and lots of it. Supposedly two levels of retail space spread out over what is seemingly two acres at least.

      All of this was highly unnecessary.

    • Matt says:

      Indeed. Its in fact a ton more work than Fulton Street because a large portion of the underground infrastructure (the portion underneath the Oculus building) is being built from scratch.

      Basically, being an integral part of the complexity of the WTC complex made it insanely expensive. Calatrava doesn’t have that much to do with it (especially since his original design has already been butchered to oblivion), and any other architect would have yielded similar costs.

      • R. Graham says:

        That’s tragic! All that money and for what? Even at $204 million for a door altogether this is a gluttony waste.

  6. Bolwerk says:

    What exactly is wrong with the underground, David? It seems easy to get in and out of, though maybe it is a bit deep. (sorry for new thread, on a mobile, so it doesn’t thread properly.)

    I think the structure is ugly, and Calatrava is way overrated. But then, he’s not as bad for New York as Frank Gehry, who might be as hostile to our skyline as al-quada.

    For $3.8B, the line could probably be extended to brooklyn or uptown. I assume the crowds there are transferring to get elsewhere anyway.

    • Frank B. says:

      Amen to that. Any amount is too much to pay for this hideous fish-bone hub. (Although a glass box is hideous as well.)

      With that $3.8 Billion, the Port Authority could’ve extended Hudson-Bergen northward into ACTUAL Bergen County, and southward into Staten Island.

      What a sickening waste of money.

      • R. Graham says:

        I’ll take a glass box that actually improves the day to day commute for thousands per day and will soon be the home entrance and exit to the massive tourist crowds that are going to start crushing the system starting 9/11/11.

        • Bolwerk says:

          I really don’t see why billions$ should be spent for tourists one day a year. And I find 9/11 “tourism” and extended mourning plain tasteless at this point. It made sense to mourn in 2002. By 2004, when the Republikan convention came to pretend they cared about the victims, it was already getting quite crass to keep extending everyone’s grief year after year.

          Anyway, if you want to improve commutes, improve throughput and bring as many of those people as you can closer to wherever they’re going – extend the line somewhere, which can be done for $3.8B.

          • R. Graham says:

            To hell with the tourists I just want to be able to use a station that functions. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten lost in the former complex as we knew it with all of the twists and turns, ups and downs. I have made every transfer there is to make there WITH ALL THE TROUBLE that comes with it.

            This project made more sense. Especially since Washington is cutting the check. With the PA, NY and NJ are cutting checks over at Calatrava.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I don’t remember the old complex well enough to comment, but the current complex is pretty functional. There isn’t much there, and it’s right at Church Street.

              And AFAIK Washington is not cutting the check. It’s a PA project.

  7. ferryboi says:

    The “temporary” PATH station that opened up after 9/11 seemed perfectly fine and serviceable to me. It was large, functional, had wide stairways and escalators and did exactly what it needed to do: make it easy for commuters to get to street level from the PATH platforms, just like the old WTC station did.

    • Eric F. says:

      Open air stations are unpleasant when it’s cold, which is pretty often around here. Besides that aspect, it was perfectly serviceable however.

      • ferryboi says:

        A few hundred million to put up some walls or glass blocks, badda-bing, you got new PATH station!

        • R. Graham says:

          Or to say the least at least put back what was originally there. Inclose the station but also do it in a way that’s intelligent.

          The last thing we need is a half done station with leaks up and down the platform causing the need for a maintenance project every two weekends.

        • al says:

          That butterfly roof entrance was pretty nice considering it was temporary. However, the eastern “bathtub” contains the foundation for 2, 3, and 4 WTC. They had to remove it to make way for excavation and construction in the new eastern pit. It would have been nice if they had disassembled it and reassembled it later.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Okay. Let’s bury all the els then. Or do only Manhattanites get the benefit of climate controlled stations?

        • Alon Levy says:

          I know Eric will disagree, but my position is that els are fine and should only be buried when there aren’t bigger priorities for tunnels.

          And climate isn’t even a major reason to bury els. For the cost of undergrounding 150 meters of track, they can enclose and climate-control the platforms many times over. And even that’s a waste, since people who have to walk to and from the station can spend an extra 3 minutes outdoors waiting for a train. If you want a real reason to build subways and not els, try noise.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I was being sarcastic. I don’t even want the els to disappear. I happen to like them. My take is that the solution to the weather issue on els is to have enough service frequency that nobody is left in the cold too long, or at least post schedules so people know when to show up. Weather-related issues solved! As for noise, even that’s not an especially good reason to bury them. Pretty sure it’s possible, even with relatively heavy NYCTA equipment, to make noise significantly lower than the din of internal combustion engines at a cost significantly less than burying the els.

            • Eric F. says:

              Well they were certainly buried for a reason. I find the racket to be unbearable, and they leave the streets encased in permanent shadow. The EPCOT-like light rail system in Jersey allows fairly quiet elevated operations (ditto the airtrain system in Queens), but even there the “el” segments are not run above and in line with the middle of busy community arterial streets. I’m definitely in the “bury it” or “cap it” camp, whether trains or highways.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Well, the shadow thing is a legitimate complaint, but even that I can’t see justifying billion-dollar replacements when that scarce money could be better spent on services to new places. Anyway, they can certainly be made more quiet. I remember being surprised when I was reading a map in Dusseldorf (underground), and turned around to see a U-bahn train leaving. In New York, I never would have missed it coming in.

                • Eric F. says:

                  If you read Daniel Okrent’s book on Rockefeller Center (Great Fortune is the title), it contains a consistent transit subplot, in that the 6th avenue side of the development basically hinged on tearing down the elevated line on 6th and burying it. So at any rate, it seemed to matter to quite a few people back then. I’m very ‘train tolerant’, and don’t mind train noise much (being under an el exceeds my tolerance), in fact I like it a bit, but I think most people are swung way away from that point of view.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Yes, well, that era was largely about replacing els. The IND, it was hoped, could replace many els, though it seems to have only managed to replace two of them fully and then went and incorporated others. They talked some years ago in nyc.transit on usenet about how much LaGuardia wanted the els removed, though I don’t know what independent secondary sources confirm that (if any). The Second Avenue El was an example of that attitude being partly implemented.

                    I fully agree noise should be contained and reduced, but I suspect it can be done without replacement. Ever ride the G Train? You don’t hear a lot of squealing on it for some reason.

    • Jerrold says:

      Ferryboi, I notice that you speak in the past tense.
      Isn’t that “temporary” PATH station still there, until the Calatrava Station opens up?

      • R. Graham says:

        The station itself is still there, but this is the third entrance. It has been moved a couple of times and the station itself down below has gone through it’s adjustments to accommodate construction for the memorial and other onsite projects.

  8. Peter says:

    It’s depressing to think of the many more worthy projects that could have benefited from some of these billions — SAS, Moynihan Station, ARC/Gateway, 7 line station at 10th Ave, the list goes on and on. However, as I’ve commented previously on this issue, this is not money already earmarked for transportation that ended up squandered on a PATH terminal. $3.8 billion is being spent here for one reason alone: because it’s ground zero. It’s symbolic. If this project were located anywhere else in the city it would have been value engineered into mediocrity long ago. Indeed it never would have been conceived on so grand a scale in the first place. The project’s transit implications have no bearing on the funding decisions. That’s glaringly obvious from the simplest cost/benefit analysis. I would consider the WTC hub a transit investment only coincidentally. If a bowling alley had been located beneath the Twin Towers instead of train tracks, we would have spent $3.8 billion rebuilding that.

    • Dan says:

      Well said Peter. It may not be a very worthy investment (although it’s debateable whether the current or previous city, state, and presidential administrations would have given remotely comparable funding to other projects), but from the moment of Libeskind’s original 1 WTC design, this was always going to be about something way beyond what is practical/useful for NYC.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Agreed, with one caveat: Moynihan Station isn’t useful either!

  9. Nick says:

    The current temporary PATH station is the second that was built. If memory serves me correct the first on cost over $200 million to build and lasted just over two years. I believe the current temporary station uses dome parts of the first, but the fact that there have been two has been a complete was of money!

    Anyone feel free to correct me if I’m exaggerating!

    • Matt says:

      No. All they did was tore down the entrance building and relocated it to a different place, and moved some staircases. Its still the same temp station.

      • Jerrold says:

        Since my last post, I found out some more information.

        The platforms are the same.
        The entrance has been moved TWICE,
        so there have been THREE temporary entrances altogether.

        • Matt says:

          The entrances don’t matter much because they aren’t significantly large structures. What people are failing to realize is that the cost of building underground infrastructure dwarfs anything above ground.

          For that reason, building a subway, which is basically a 20’x10′ box, costs so a lot more than building a house of a similar size and takes much longer.

  10. David in NYC says:

    Gawd, you micro-obsessed transit heads really got your knickers in a twist. You guys are so easy! Of course $3.8 billion is a huge cost to finish the WTC site, but let’s not forget how we got there.
    The emotional trauma from 9/11 was twisted into invading Iraq (having the second largest oil reserves) and ended up costing more American lives than at the WTC tragedy. At the same time we neglected the real war in Afghanistan and will be paying for that for many years to come.
    The Iraq War paid over $2 billion per week to big military business contractors who funded the elections of politicians voting for the war. Forget about the poor soldiers and their families. They’re just lucky to have a small paycheck…..
    All of this blood money could have instead funded rebuilding the WTC at a mere fraction of the cost of this criminal war. But that cost wouldn’t spread the money to the right people in control.
    So who cares if taxpayers are getting screwed for a truly beautiful new transit hub that will be a cherished monument for decades to come. Banks made a killing approving mortgages to anyone who could sign and they’re still doing just fine.
    Taxpayers have been getting screwed since the tax cut for millionaires and two unfunded wars went into effect. And so now we cut education and medical care because we’re (deliberately) broke.
    Build that wonderful Transit Hub which will cost less than two weeks in Iraq. It’s all just a part of their grand plan.

    • Bolwerk says:

      I don’t object to a “nice” transit hub (except, well, Calatrava’s is kind of ugly). However, at that price, I object to putting aesthetics ahead of desperately needed transportation of the sort that can at least ween a lot of people off some of that oil. I would think decreasing dependency on oil and the thugs who sell it is a more touching tribute to the victims anyway.

  11. AlexB says:

    I don’t mind having an excessively expensive transit hub downtown – it does deserve a Grand Central type focal point. I just don’t think we need two of them. In terms of above ground work, it should have been this or the Fulton St complex, not both.

    When this project was born, there was still talk of extending the LIRR to the WTC. Did this transit hub project have any plans for a future LIRR station? Were allowances made for future escalators, stairs, and elevators? Was there any thought given to where the LIRR platform might actually be?

    A great idea would have been to combine the PATH and Atlantic Branch of the LIRR into one express line from Newark to Jamaica via downtown Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. I’m sure the lines are built to different standards of platforms and electrification, but either PATH or Atlantic Branch could have been modified to accommodate the other. Oh well.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Fulton Street does have a practical application in making the various lines there ADA-compliant and easier to connect to. The headhouse is still a waste of money though. There is almost no point to that Calatrava station except having a (not-so-)pretty monument.

      As for the LIRR: probably no on all counts. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be anymore expensive in the future to bring the LIRR in. But that project was something just about only George Pataki wanted, specifically to bring AirTrain to downtown, and it was probably as good as dead when nobody else latched on in the early 2000s. Neither AirTrain or LIRR equipment would fit into the smaller-than-IRT PATH tubes, sadly, so PATH equipment would have to be used for the Atlantic Branch in such a scheme. Of course, that’s not an inherently bad idea but it does mean no LIRR (or AirTrain) to lower Manhattan – though I suppose it would be just as easy to extend PATH to the AirPort or Jamaica at least, which could result in fairly easy Newark AirportJFK transfers.

      • Alon Levy says:

        The original LIRR to Lower Manhattan proposal would add a new tunnel from Flatbush to the Fulton-WTC area, with no use of PATH infrastructure.

        • AlexB says:

          I know. I added connecting them because it makes a certain kind of sense – 1 existing line and 1 proposed line both terminating in the same spot, why not connect them? The Calatrava terminal should have included a shell of a future LIRR platform somewhere, or an underground bus terminal, or anything that provided from some CAPACITY increases instead of just prettiness.

          I completely understand connecting the LIRR to downtown, but I never understood Pataki’s focus on JFK. LIRR has hundreds of thousands of riders, the Airtrain just has thousands.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Well, AirTrain sucks. Actually bringing a service from JFK to lower Manhattan could actually dent congestion to the airport, or at least offer an affordable, viable alternative.

            Still, there are worthier projects.

          • Alon Levy says:

            JFK has pizzazz. Why else do you think people build 6-figures-per-rider airport connectors?

            And if they have money for a tunnel from Flatbush to Lower Manhattan and a new CBD station shell, then the extra cost of continuing on to Hoboken or Jersey City and connecting to the Erie Lines is bearable. (And the cost of electrifying the Erie Lines, rather than running insanely expensive and heavy dual-mode locos, is trivial.)

            • Bolwerk says:

              Who is “they”? The PA probably has money for all these things, though they quite clearly don’t want an effective rail system – and other stakeholders don’t seem to care that much either.

    • R. Graham says:

      Some time after the Canal Street signal room fire and the firestorm that followed then NYCT President for making comments saying it could take years to restore service. The idea came up of removing the A and C from it’s current line south of West 4th and having those trains run with the F line from West 4th to Jay Street in Brooklyn.

      The idea was to replace the A and C aka (Steal existing infrastructure) to run LIRR into Fulton Street. It was a hot debate at the time but ultimately the concept died. Then everyone moved on to the idea of extending Airtrain to Lower Manhattan with a new tunnel.

      No preparation work really needs to be done for bringing LIRR downtown because it would have to be built pretty deep anyway. Then the so called stairs and escalators could be built right into what would be the existing FSTC.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] World Trade Center, it could have been funded out of 9/11 recovery funds, which instead went to the Calatrava PATH terminal. In addition, the rebuilding of WTC and the PATH terminal could have been done in tandem with the […]

  2. […] Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect, was hired to build the transportation hub at the memorial.  The NY Times had an unfavorable review as the costs have ballooned from $2.2 billion to potentially $3.8 billion dollars. […]

  3. […] Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect, was hired to build the transportation hub at the memorial.  The NY Times had an unfavorable review as the costs have ballooned from $2.2 billion to potentially $3.8 billion dollars. […]

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