WTC PATH hub delayed another 18 months

By · Published in 2013

Santiago Calatrava’s monstrous testament to the power of no public oversight.

The saga of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center PATH hub is a familiar one to long-time readers. What once started out as a $2 billion project expected to take four years to build has stretched every onward and upward to become a $3.8 billion, six-year undertaking. It’s long been unclear exactly what is driving the costs and the timeline issues, but Hurricane Sandy, ostensibly, did not help.

In an interview in The Times today, Cheryl McKissack Daniel, president of McKissack & McKissack, spoke about the PATH hub. Her words were not optimistic:

Q. You’re also working on the World Trade Center transportation hub.

A. There’s another long one!

The World Trade Center started out being about 48 months and quickly grew to about six years. And now, after Sandy, that added another year and a half to the whole project. Everything was flooded — everything was new and flooded. And all of that had to be replaced because it’s all electrical work.

We are part of a large team with Turner and Tishman to provide construction management services and it’s really more on the consulting side for the Port Authority.

Vivian Marino, the Times interviewer here, was handed a gift horse and decided to turn it down. It’s a Very Big Deal that Sandy and the subsequent damage added another 18 months to this project, and logical follow-up concerns costs. The Port Authority has, so far, been mum on anything relating to this project and its projected spend.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard from a few sources that Sandy isn’t the only factor behind this delay. These sources claim that Santiago Calatrava’s influence (and meddling) have led to some redesigns and cost increases. Additionally, others have questioned Downtown Design Partnership’s ability to manage public perception and the behind-the-scenes timeline.

So what we’re left with here are more questions and concerns. It’s likely that this PATH terminal won’t wrap until after work on 1 World Trade Center is finished, and it’s guaranteed to cost $4 billion. To make matters worse, that $4 billion isn’t going toward any sort of increase in capacity or service levels. What a mess.

* * *

Update (4:00 p.m.): Via Twitter, the Port Authority issued a statement disputing Daniel’s statement: “Info provided by Ms. Daniel is wrong. The anticipated completion date of the WTC Transportation Hub remains 2015.” The fact, remains, however, that the project is set to open after 1 World Trade Center, cost nearly $4 billion and take eight years to construct. Is it worth it?

Categories : PANYNJ

85 Responses to “WTC PATH hub delayed another 18 months”

  1. Someone says:

    How the heck did the PATH officials not find out about this until 4 months after Sandy? That is a huge problem.

  2. Drosejr says:

    Thanks for following up on this. I wonder when the PA will acknowledge this further delay, and also whether it will impact the East-West connector that WFC and 1WTC are probably counting on when their respective projects are completed.
    I would guess the NYT didn’t follow up on the question because WTC delays are so ingrained at this point, that another one is no surprise (East-Side Access too). I am surprised that the first concrete I’m seeing is in this interview, though; she was off message there a bit.

    • Jerrold says:

      “…….the East-West connector that WFC and 1WTC are probably counting on……..”

      NOT TO MENTION the already completed Dey St. Passage that they found a lousy excuse to not open up now.
      If all the sudden they are afraid of having a place where homeless people might congregate, they might as well shut down the entire subway system, all the railroad stations and all the public parks.

      • Berk32 says:

        the dey st passageway isnt anything special right now – its not going to be in fare control- its meant to connect the new PATH station and the new WTC to the Fulton st complex…

        • Someone says:

          So the WTC/Park Place/Chambers St station isn’t going to be connected to the Fulton St Transit Centre within fare control? Well, that sucks.

          • All of those trains except the E already stop at Fulton St. What would be the point of another transfer one stop later exactly?

            • Someone says:

              Well, I’d rather have no connection from the E to the transit center at all.

            • boerumhillscott says:

              They also lost the chance for the R to connect to Fulton inside fare control.

              • Berk32 says:

                There wasn’t supposed to be a need for it – since once everything is done – the R will connect inside fare control to the WTC E station (and therefor the A/C Chambers St and 2/3 Park Place stations)

                • Someone says:

                  Which makes the R one stop away from the Fulton Street station, even though the R is in fact closer to Fulton Street than it is to World Trade Center.

                  • Berk32 says:

                    Um… The R and E stations practically overlap.

                    and the E is already connected to the 2/3 park place and a/c chambers st stations (which require a walk most the length of the e train basically)

                    meanwhile – you’d have to walk even more to go from the R to the 2/3 Fulton St station (2 blocks + the length of the A/C Fulton platform + a ton (and i mean a ton) of stairs)

                    You really have no idea what the layout of downtown Manhattan is, do you?


  3. Larry Littlefield says:

    I just wish…they’d have rebuilt Hudson Terminal, perhaps with more retail on the first floor and in the basement, and left it at that.

    The could build the tallest tower over the new Fulton Street complex instead.

    • Bolwerk says:

      I get the hardon for having the world’s highest an unusually tall building, but the transit station should really have been stopped. Just setting aside the fact that this giant white porcu-dildo is a monstrosity, $3.8B is probably enough money to extend NJT to GCT or to send PATH to Brooklyn or to do any of a number of useful things.

      This project won’t add capacity for a single rider over the current temporary station.

      • Eric F says:

        I think most NYers believe that the tallest building in the U.S. should be in NY. I’d argue that having the governmnet build it is not smart (see: what has been happening for the last 12 years), but growing up it always seemed kind of off to have that sears tower in Chicago best the home town skyscrapers.

        • Someone says:

          Skyscrapers + the Windy City = a huge problem…

          • Eric F says:

            The Sears tower was known in Chicago for a long time as being both the world’s tallest building and the world’s most vacant building.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I believe “Windy City” is an epithet having more to do with blustery politicians than literal high wind. It may have to do with New York being butthert about losing a World’s Fair, IIRC.

            (Also, “Second City” is about the revival of the city after the Great Fire, not its secondary status behind New York.)

        • Bolwerk says:

          I more or less agree. I don’t find the symbolic value of doing that so offensive, but the WTC boondoggle is a lot more than just having a building that can be called the tallest. It’s scarcely worth it to have a so-called Grand Central 2.0 on a chintzy service like PATH.

  4. LLQBTT says:

    How many +SBS+ implementations does $3.8bn buy? The whole city could probably have a robust +SBS+ network for the $. Instead we have ourselves a good, old-fashioned boondoggle!

  5. Hoosac says:

    I love Calatrava’s work. I think this is a beautiful building. But it just isn’t worth it anymore. Stop, already.

    • Eric F says:

      It’s nice at $750 million. At $4 billion it’s batty. And meanwhile commuters slog through an open air concrete “temporary” station while the perma-construction takes place. Lost money and lost years. If your career in lower Manhattan spans 15 years, it’s actually a permanent station.

    • petey says:

      agree with hoosac, i liked it very much at first, but we’d had enough.

  6. Eric F says:

    The Port is more or less completely paralyzed by Ground Zero and has been for over a dozen years now. All of its energies are being devoted to what is essentially a massive real estate project, and the metro area is now experiencing what will be a 20 year freeze in new work anywhere else. It seems that an entire generation of PA toll money and managerial effort will be spent on Ground Zero. As a result, NYC has some of the dowdiest and unfunctional road infrastructure in the country. I know roads aren’t a source of interest here, but there were plans to enhance the Lincoln Tunnel and replace the Goethals Bridge. Those plans are in what looks like a generation-long abeyance. These crossings have become enormously expensive to cross and the Goethals suffers approximately one crash per day on average.

    On the rail side, last year, the Port announced that construction would commence this year on a rebuild of the Harrison PATH station, a prerequisite to expanding PATH capacity to ten car trains. It’s not the only prerequisite, but it’s one of them. That has now been iced. There hasn’t been any public statement to that effect, the project just is not occurring. There is a signal modernization project on PATH that is proceeding on a pace that would make a glacier blush. PATH has new train cars per a process set in motion before 9/11, but ex those cars, it’s pretty much a system sealed in amber while the communities the trains go through have seen a flowering rendering them unrecognizable when compared with how they looked 20 years ago.

    So, no, it’s not worth it…

    • This is one of the more compelling arguments for gingerly removing PATH from the PA’s purview and placing it under New York City Transit’s auspices.

      It’s a damn shame the rebuild of the Lincoln Tunnel helix has gone nowhere. That and Goethals are two projects the area badly needs.

      • Eric F says:

        I’d argue it’s at the very least an argument to get the PA out of real estate. And they were out! Almost! But then 9/11 happened at just about the precise moment that the privitization plan was reaching culmination.

        The replacement of the helix (presumably by knocking it down and moving tunnell access inland?) would move that structure into the current century.

        There is no reason why NYers should have to deal with infrastructure that is as inadequate and depressing-looking as the PA bus terminal, Goethals, Outerbridge, a dozen traffic lights to the Holland Tunnel, etc. It’s a nasty way to have to get around.

        • Walter says:

          Having the Port Authority (or the MTA) deal in real estate is itself not a bad idea, it’s just they don’t know how to manage their assets correctly.

          Hong Kong’s subway system is in private hands because the company is allowed to be a major player in real estate. If the PA (or especially the MTA) were allowed to build office towers above their infrastructure, and were able to run those properties competently, they might make enough money to provide a first class transportation system. Instead they spend billions on vanity projects, while politicians purposely force them to accept less than market value for what land they have left (i.e. Atlantic Yards).

    • Bolwerk says:

      I know it’s a bit bland, but I think my solution to the WTC complex actually might have been a public-private partnership for a mixed use development. The pig state could have been brought in to offer a “memorial” aesthetic oversight, as well as the obligatory Very Tall Building, while the complex could have been subdivided into lots that private entities could have developed – a process that could have helped pay Silverstein off to GTFO. My thought on the aesthetic component would be something solemn, but dignified, like Old Town Edinburgh at a more Lower Manhattan-esque scale, but that doesn’t matter so much as having something functional people could live and work in. Even in 2002, welcoming housing as an option, could have made that real estate much more salable.

      But, unimaginative politicians prefer the bawdy eye rape of Calatrava, supermarket designer Libeskind (or the even more dull David Childs), and whatever still hearkens to Le Corbusier’s failed anti-urban ideology.

    • AG says:

      yeah – this project is overpriced (and I think ugly) – but real estate is not the issue. Since it was a failure of national security – I think the federal government should pay for the whole project (which of course since NY is a donor state would partly come from us anyway). Actually – the PA like the MTA actually makes money from real estate. Some would argue they don’t go far enough – because when you look overseas (especially Asia) – real estate development is how some transit systems are “profitable”.

  7. g says:

    Perhaps one day the MTA can extend the LIRR from Atlantic Terminal into a new station below the transit hall and make further use of this titanic waste of money.

    • Someone says:

      That’s an even bigger waste of money. To fully make use of it, the 7 train should be extended to Bayside or Secaucus, with one or two stops along the way.

      • AG says:

        someone – that would NOT be a waste… there is no commuter rail hub in lower manhattan. like it or not… millions of ppl live in the suburbs took. a commuter rail stop downtown still takes cars of the roads and eases congestion on certain subway lines.

    • AG says:

      G – I agree that would have been a better use of the money. that was supposed to be the plan to connect JFK to lower Manhattan… and the feds were supposed to contribute. Not sure what happened though.

  8. John-2 says:

    The PATH situation is similar to the MTA’s lower South Ferry situation, albeit for different reasons. Once you’ve spent a ton of $$$ on it, the option to just throw up your hands and say ‘no more’ is limited, given how new the work in place is and how bad it would look to have spent all that cash and not finished the job, or given up on restoring the job. The Big Dig in Boston was the same way — the critical mistakes were made at the outset, and now your stuck with a “Too Big to Fail Abandon” money pit.

    • Peter says:

      No. The “Big Dig” is a boon to Boston transportation, and real-estate values. Whatever birthing/teething pains it had will be long forgotten. It’s a project that will add value for 100 years.

      The Fulton Transit Center and the new PATH add marginal value. The new South Ferry Station, some. However a 10th Avenue station on the #7 line would have been money better spent than all of the above.

      • John-2 says:

        Don’t disagee about the Fulton Transit Center being a major waste, as as the PATH station — the MTA should have simply sold the air rights on the block and reserved half of the ground floor for transit use and it would have done the job and offset some of the projects cost. And while the PATH station has it’s aesthetic value, its the surrounding area that will make or break the success of the new WTC site; a PATH access point could have been had for less than a quarter of the final price and fit in as a supporting player to the Ground Zero site, not as a porcupine-as-showoff-peacock Calatrava’s palace is.

        But the Big Dig may be more of an economic generator, but at $24.3 billion as of last summer, when you throw in the ongoing interest payments, it still falls into the cost-way-more-than-it-should-have category.

      • Bolwerk says:

        The boon to real estate values was probably the demolishing of the above-ground Central Artery. That could have been done without the underground boondoggle.

      • Alon Levy says:

        The Big Dig is a boon to Boston’s drivers; it’s a bane to Boston’s transportation, since the state illegally forced the MBTA to take on large amounts of debt to finance court-mandated environmental mitigations (and illegally avoids building some of those mitigations anyway).

  9. Mika says:

    Imagine if this money got spent on the SAS. We might have even had Phase 2 done by 2025!

  10. Jerrold says:

    We used to have the Twin Towers.
    We now have the Twin Boondoggles,
    otherwise known as the Fulton Center and the Calatrava Center.

  11. Phantom says:

    They should cancel the project now and leave it as a monument to incompetence

  12. lawhawk says:

    The $2.2b initial cost was for the transit hub, which included 500k sf of retail space – a mall. The costs have more than doubled, and no end in sight.

    How much of the cost is due to the above ground hub feature, and how much due to the retail space.

    So much about the project is a mess and Ben’s absolutely right that the project wont add to capacity and isn’t worth the cost.

    But the cost for the hub wouldn’t be going to extend MTA subways or SBS. It would be going for a PANYNJ project. And that’s where things could have gotten interesting. They could have used the money to extend PATH to EWR. They could have funded out the Gateway/ARC project (and covered the overruns at that). They could have done the Goethals replacement and the Bayonne bridge lift. They could have extended the JFK airtrain through to LGA (or else do a link between LGA and the 7 or other MTA connection point).

    Instead, we’re still waiting. And watching as the site remains under perpetual construction.

    • Someone says:

      Actually, the PANYNJ should just abandon this project and focus on building a PATH extension to EWR. It doesn’t even matter anymore whether the temp station is hard-to-reach.

    • Phantom says:

      I pass by the site every work day. I used to look up to see the day’s progress. I was proud to see it.

      I’m not proud now. The WTC / PATH station / Memorial is an endless scam.

      They should not have any celebration when they finish it, finally. The delays and cost overruns have ruined it. Its ruined now.

    • Someone says:

      They could have extended the JFK airtrain through to LGA

      You want another A*REX?

      • Someone says:

        Whoops, sorry. A’REX.

        • Jerrold says:

          Is that something like a T. Rex [dinosaur]?
          WHAT is an A’REX?

          • Someone says:

            A Seoul subway line that connects Incheon Airport with Gimpo International Airport (basically a line from one airport to another.)

            • Alon Levy says:

              It also missed ridership projections by a factor of more than 10, at least initially.

              • lawhawk says:

                The Secaucus boondoggle likewise missed its ridership projections by a similar margin. It’s only begun to approach the low end of the ridership range now that there’s a park-n-ride facility next door (which should have been a multilevel garage and built contemporaneously with the station). But with the original $80 million cost for that project ballooning to $450m (and really closer to $1b once you factor in debt costs and the construction of the 15x interchange, there was no money to do it right the first time.

                Oh, and the station leaks, was built in such a way that they can’t easily replace lighting in the main hall, and they had to reconfigure the turnstiles because they didn’t have proper flow at the outset.

  13. Jerrold says:

    Besides, by now Los Angeles is second only to New York in population, so by that measure Chicago has slipped to Third City.

  14. Jerrold says:

    TO BEN:

    There is a bit of a technical problem going on.
    My name and E-mail address keep disappearing from the boxes
    underneath “LEAVE A REPLY”. So half the time, when I type out a message, I get an Error Message saying that I did not include my name and E-m ail address. The trouble is, that my entire typed message vanishes also when that happens. Then I have to start over again typing out the message.
    It used to be that my name and E-mail address would automatically come up here in those boxes.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Hmm, I was wondering about that myself.

      There also seems to be a caching problem the past couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s necessary to frequently reload to get the latest content. Anyone else notice that?

    • Someone says:

      Yeah, happens to me too. You have to input the fields before typing the message.

  15. Frank B says:

    To Answer Your Question Ben…

    No. No it wasn’t.

  16. alexander medwedew says:

    Refurbishing the PATH tunnel after 9/11 rather than building a new high capacity rail tunnel to NJ was the first of many mistakes in the reconstruction of the WTC. A comprehensive regional transportation plan with connections to local airports from downtown may not be realized in this century. The resulting facility will be an extremely expensive entrance to a series of 19th century railway systems.

    • Someone says:

      A comprehensive regional transportation plan with connections to local airports from downtown may not be realized in this century.

      We used to have that in the past, actually

    • boerumhillscott says:

      Refurbhsihing the PATH tunnel was 100% the correct thing to do. Too many commuting patterns were based on it to not replace it.

      What should have been done was to build a permanent station at the platform/passenger circulation levels with gaps/supports for whatever would be built above later.

      The current platforms and stairs are very overcrowded at rush hour, especially between the platform and mezzanine.

      Later on, additional entrances into the WTC complex and neighboring subways could have been built as the individual building and retail plans advanced.

      The grand hall was not neccessary, and its delays are holding up needed improvements for the people who use the station to commute every day.

  17. Just Some Guy says:

    The terrorists won.

  18. solgoldberg says:

    The NYT interview was corrected today 2/14. It’s a short & interesting due to her heritage.

    Correction: February 14, 2013

    An earlier version of this interview misstated the construction timeline for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Ms. Daniel issued a statement on Feb. 14 that said the anticipated completion date for the project remains 2015. It has not been extended 18 months because of Hurricane Sandy.

  19. Nyland8 says:

    Wow! Quite a litany of reasons why the PA should simply not be in the subway business – as many of us have contended for a long time.

    Can you imagine something as simple as having used that $4 billion to extend the PATH just one more stop to the Fulton St. hub? That’s the kind of vision the MTA might have brought to bear on a post-9/11 transportation landscape – IF it were in control of the PATH system.

    It’s long past time the Port Authority was divested of their subway.

  20. solgoldberg says:

    Good point.
    That seems to make a lot of sense.

  21. Frank says:

    Look on the bright side, at least the station won’t be under construction forever.

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