Home PANYNJ Why the PATH Hub isn’t a new Grand Central

Why the PATH Hub isn’t a new Grand Central

by Benjamin Kabak

An occulus arises. (Photo via @WTCProgress)

With great restraint, I haven’t written too much about the $4 billion World Trade Center PATH Hub over the past five weeks, but the Port Authority decided to take some reporters for a tour earlier this week. The resulting coverage has been particularly impressive for, on the one hand, its sweeping proclamations of success for a project two years away from opening and, on the other, for its sheer skepticism that this thing was worth building. Stuck in the middle was an entirely inapt comparison to Grand Central by none other than The New York Times.

The story in The Times takes the Port Authority party line hook, line and sinker, at least for its first half. Carrying the headline “A Transit Hub in the Making May Prove to Be the Grandest,” David Dunlap’s piece foresees the PATH Hub as Grand Central South. With a lede that calls Grand Central an “enduring landmark” and “a portal to the city that has never lost its power to inspire awe,” Dunlap wonders if the PATH Hub can do the same:

If the World Trade Center Transportation Hub is ever to emerge from under the shadow of its $3.94 billion price tag (double Grand Central’s, adjusted for inflation), it will have to do more than move PATH commuters efficiently. It will have to lift hearts. Perhaps it can.

A visit to the monumental station on Wednesday left the impression that its main transit hall may be the most hopeful element at the trade center complex when it opens in 2015. Now full of light and air, it will one day be full of people, movement and life, as well. It could become a destination in its own right, even for those who are not among the 200,000 or so commuters traveling daily to and from New Jersey.

The transportation hub and retail concourses will be “the only facilities on site that are completely accessible to the public,” said a report by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is building the hub. By contrast, visitors to the office towers, the National September 11 Memorial Museum and the 1 World Trade Center observatory will be subject to tight scrutiny.

In the end, that may be the most astonishing feature of the hub; that a structure of such colossal proportions should be devoted to unobstructed public use. The main transit hall is 365 feet long — a block and a half — making it 90 feet longer than the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal. It is 115 feet wide, or just 5 feet narrower than the Grand Central concourse. It takes a half minute to walk from one side to the other.

Now to be fair to Dunlap, he spends the second half of the article talking about the project’s ever-increasing cost which has essentially doubled since plans were first unveiled. He also accepts PATH’s estimate that 200,000 people will traipse through the hub daily without much of a second-guess. Currently, PATH’s total daily ridership is only around 260,000, and not all of those riders pass through the World Trade Center stop. A new hub — without added track or tunnel capacity — won’t deliver too many more riders.

So is the PATH Hub positioned to be a new Grand Central? Not by a long shot. The current iteration of Grand Central was built by a private entity to uniform rail operations in New York, electrify the tracks and restore Park Avenue to the people of the city as opposed to its trains. It contains 123 tracks — 46 with platforms — and will soon see a marked increase when East Side Access, at a cost of just twice the PATH Hub, will bring in another eight tracks of LIRR service. The PATH Hub, as an underground mall, may rival Grand Central in its grandeur, but as a train station, it falls far short.

Even still, some of those who saw the station in progress this week walked away far more skeptically than The Times did. Steve Cuozzo of The Post was one of those columnists casting stones on the half-completed transit hub. The structure is an architectural marvel, he says, but “is this pet project of the PA’s New Jersey side worth it?”

The Hub’s so big, complicated and densely packed with everything all around, it made three skyscrapers and the Memorial much harder and costlier to build.

And how many will use it? More than 250,000 daily, PA construction chief Steve Plate said yesterday. Skeptics say as few as 50,000, mostly Jersey commuters. The project adds no new track, only endless underground corridors for walking from here to there. Isn’t that what city streets are for?

In an age with limited dollars available for transit and a glaring need to add capacity, have we spent wisely? Can’t we build great public spaces that inspire civic pride without flushing cash down the drain? At the former Ground Zero site, apparently not.

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159 comments

JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 2:30 am

Does the project do anything for an extension of path towards brooklyn? Some kind of box or whatever where excavators can be dropped in?

Or is it just literally dead end tracks with those little things that trains bump into if they’re out of control and nothing beyond that?

Also, why is path classified as “real” rail and not metro? Like on google maps it uses the train icon. Looks like a standard subway to me.

Also, if you want more people to ride path, SPEED IT UP. According to Google Maps, if Im going from Newark to Wall St, via path its 44 minutes. Via penn station and connection its 55 minutes. That indicates something is wrong with PATH.

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Walter July 19, 2013 - 3:51 am

The WTC PATH is a loop station; no track “ends,” the 5 station tracks just all merge back into the downtown tubes for a trip to/from Jersey. The platform layout is pretty much unchanged since it’s rebuilding in 1971.

The subway infrastructure east of the WTC probably prevents any possible PATH extenstion from the WTC, and the H&M only had plans for expansion off of it’s 6th Avenue line.

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Nyland8 July 19, 2013 - 7:02 am

For the money that was spent, they could have extended it under existing subways to the Fulton Transit Center – a whopping 1 stop.

Those connections alone would have been worth the engineering headaches.

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 9:10 am

Well, back when the WTC was in ruins, they could have used the opportunity to reconfigure the platforms. But that would have required thinking about the future of people outside New Jersey and Manhattan. Something like the 7 at 42nd or the L at 14th, but with tail tracks.

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lawhawk July 19, 2013 - 9:25 am

The mood after 9/11 was to get PATH service and MTA service restored as quickly as possible, and that meant utilizing the existing infrastructure and routes through the bathtub.

That meant that the E would end where it had historically, 1 would continue to South Ferry, and the PATH would loop through the site.

It was amazing that the Port Authority managed to get PATH restored as quickly as they did – November 2003 to get the first temporary station up and running (while the rest of the site was an empty and quiet shell).

Then, the construction started all around the site as the plan for the entire site was finalized and the underground infrastructure frozen in place.

It’s what has happened since then that the Port Authority deserves all manner of scorn for.

They simply couldn’t hold costs down (and the cost for the hub apparently includes those for the EW connector, other infrastructure, and the mall). It doesn’t make it any easier to stomach when the Port Authority raised tolls and fares to cover the cost increases at the hub.

In other words, we’re going to be stuck with an architectural marvel that does nothing to add capacity.

We’ve lost yet another opportunity to get mass transit right in Lower Manhattan and botched it.

stairbob July 19, 2013 - 9:37 am

The WTC hub is planned to connect to Fulton St.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dey_Street_Passageway

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Ian MacAllen July 19, 2013 - 11:51 am

It should actually connect everything from Fulton Street to the ferry terminals at the Hudson River by way of the World Financial Center with a very minimal number of up and down stairs. Originally I believe they wanted one flat corridor connecting everything but moving some component cost too much and as a result there is one section that requires ascending and descending.

Nylan8 July 19, 2013 - 12:54 pm

If it had gone to the east side of Fulton, i.e. Fulton east of the 2,3 Lines, it could have connected to the last phase of the SAS. That requires looking further down the road.

It’s the kind of thing the MTA might have considered doing with post-9/11 federal money if it had been in control of the PATH. The PA shouldn’t be operating a subway system. There are at least a half-dozen reasonable expansion options throughout the PATH system that might be discussed – IF the MTA were running PATH as a “C Division”.

But many of those options are never even tabled because the PA has its own agenda, which doesn’t coincide with wider regional interests.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 2:32 pm

But many of those options are never even tabled because the PA has its own agenda, which doesn’t coincide with wider regional interests. When you give it some thaught , that statement is rediculous despite it’s truth. Regional mobility is in the Port Athority’s best interest, but it’s the way they go about it that raises more questions then it answers. You can say the same for the MTA & other entities as well, as this problem doesn’t fall totally under the scope of the PA.

Josh July 19, 2013 - 2:20 pm

“For the money that was spent, they could have extended it under existing subways to the Fulton Transit Center – a whopping 1 stop.”

Do you have any basis for the claim that they could have done that for the same amount of money?

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Nyland8 July 21, 2013 - 8:18 am

“Do you have any basis for the claim that they could have done that for the same amount of money?”

Do you mean a basis other than common sense? How many Billion$ have been sunk into that site already – and it’s far from finished.

Of course any such claim is purely speculative. How could it be otherwise? We’ve currently got three ongoing tunneling projects in Manhattan, none of which has cost what it was first expected to. The only lesson that teaches us is, we really have no idea what any capital project is going to cost – until we’ve finished it.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 12:57 am

Wasn’t it also built to accommodate a future Lower Manhattan-JFK rail link?

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Kev July 20, 2013 - 2:50 pm

no

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Bolwerk July 20, 2013 - 3:00 pm

My understanding is the station was built in such a manner, but I don’t think that includes a way to bring PATH to Brooklyn.

And I have no idea if that feature was lost somewhere in the process.

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Henry July 21, 2013 - 2:16 am

There probably isn’t a shell or anything, but for what it’s worth, the station hall can probably handle any projected travel volumes.

If LIRR is ever extended to WTC, they’ll probably just hook up a giant escalator bank to the station hall and leave it at that. It’ll be one of the few times an ARC-type deep cavern makes sense, because there’s so much stuff underground (pipes, electric lines, cables (of the domestic and international variety), archaeological sites, etc.) that doing it the old-fashioned way would probably be delay prone and very expensive. Plus, as an added bonus, the City doesn’t really have comprehensive maps of where its pipes, sewers, and electric lines lay.

Bolwerk July 21, 2013 - 12:39 pm

Even then, it would perhaps be better to just bore a stop and keep boring to NJ or something and terminate there. Deep boring isn’t even so expensive as deep boring a complex terminal.

Ben July 21, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Indeed, the only way I could ever see the LIRR being extended to lower Manhattan would be if the plan were to extend it on to Hoboken and through-run NJ Transit and LIRR trains. I can’t imagine the political will to extend the LIRR from Atlantic Terminal ever materializing for a smaller-scale project.

Henry July 21, 2013 - 9:21 pm

I’m sure that Nassau can yell just as loud as New Jersey can, and Chuck Schumer has always been a very strong advocate of funding transit projects in this city, regardless of their merits. (See: Moniyhan Station)

marv July 21, 2013 - 9:32 pm

Ben says:
July 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Indeed, the only way I could ever see the LIRR being extended to lower Manhattan would be if the plan were to extend it on to Hoboken and through-run NJ Transit and LIRR trains.

…………and this would then:
*free up space at NY Penn Station for Amtrak
*provide an alternate (emergency route) for trains through NY
*Reduce (eliminate) the need for PATH Trains from Hoboken to downtown thus simplifying PATH operations, perhaps allowing for more trains per hour.

Phantom July 19, 2013 - 6:49 am

Was there ever serious talk of expanding PATH to Brooklyn?

Expansion say to the LIRR at Atlantic would be brilliant

The Chinese ( or the city of Chicago ) wouldn’t talk about it. They’d just do it.

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BoerumHillScott July 19, 2013 - 8:18 am

The LIRR cannot be expanded from Atlantic Terminal.
Any extenstion of the Brooklyn line would have to go back a ways and create a new line that can dive under the mess of stations at Atlatnic/Flatbush/4th and create a new deep station there before heading on to Manhattan.
Given today’s constuction costs, I doubt you could get beyond that station before spending $1.5 billion.

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John-2 July 19, 2013 - 9:08 am

There would be one possible shallow tunnel option of curving the northernmost tracks at Atlantic Terminal up Ashland Place, and then following the footprint of the BQE to the waterfront for a new LIRR tunnel to Manhattan. As long as the tracks had vertical clearance to bisect the mezzanines of the A/G and G stations at Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, a tunnel following that path could avoid the worst of Brooklyn’s downtown subway tunnels to find its way to the East River.

Any PATH extension from WTC, on the other hand, would require an all-new station platform that avoids the loop. The tracks are low enough as they are to subduct all the rail lines to the east (as it already does with the 1 train at Greenwich Street) if for some reason it were to be extended to Brooklyn. But hooking it up to the 6 train would be a huge thread-the-needle operation, having to deal with the area tunnels for the A/C, R 2/3 and 4/5 trains to reach the 6 (which might also mean having to destroy part of the abandoned City Hall loop station — No one outside of fans of “Ghost” may have shed tears when lower 42nd at Eighth Avenue was destroyed for the 7 extension, but taking out the system’s original station, even if it’s not open to passengers, might cause a few more protests).

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BoerumHillScott July 19, 2013 - 9:42 am

The 4th Ave line runs under Ashland, and I think it is rising at that point getting ready for the merge with the Brighton line.
It would be quite the needle threading operation, especially since the Fulton and Crosstown lines are going from two levels to one a block away.

Assuming it could be done, I guess the current north platform could be kept, but there would have to be a tight curve that cuts through the current circulation space.

I don’t think any of the LIRR to downtown plans included this as an option.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 12:58 am

Isn’t there a disused tunnel under Atlantic Av that leads to the waterfront?

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John-2 July 20, 2013 - 4:17 pm

Yes, but it’s took close to the street for the LIRR to use, because the IRT and BMT tracks are in the way. The railroad would have to bore too deep under the street to make the tunnel between Flatbush and the river useful as a route into Manhattan.

alen July 19, 2013 - 9:53 am

why expand the PATH to brooklyn when the cost of a subway fare is not that much more?

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BoerumHillScott July 19, 2013 - 11:36 am

I live in Brooklyn, Atlantic-Barclays is my home station, and I take the PATH at WTC every day to get to Exchange place.

While having direct PATH access from my home station to work would certainly be nice, I don’t think it is practical or a good use of resources.

Having the WTC transit center built will take care of almost of my commuting complanints regarding transfering, and I don’t mind paying the exra fare for interstate transit service.

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Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 12:15 pm

Transfer penalty. A huge one in this case given walking time from the WTC platforms to any of the Fulton platforms.

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alen July 19, 2013 - 1:29 pm

why not just take the LIRR to jamaica and then Penn and then get on the NJ transit? or just take the 2/3 to Penn and then the NJ transit?

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:33 pm

It’s extremely circuitous to go through Jamaica and fairly circuitous to go through Penn. Also, transfer penalty, a huge one in this case given walking time from the Penn subway platforms to any of the mainline platforms (which can be mitigated by ending the LIRR/NJT turf separation, since the LIRR turf is more accessible from the IRT than the NJT and Amtrak turf).

alen July 19, 2013 - 3:14 pm

its like 5 minutes to go from the 2/3 to the NJ transit side of Penn. 10 at the most.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 3:31 pm

Yeah, and that’s a huge headache. Depending on who you ask, a minute spent waiting or transferring counts as much as 1.75 minutes spent in motion (MTA) to 2.25 minutes (MBTA). There may also be a transfer penalty independent of waiting and transferring time: the MTA does not believe there is one, the MBTA believes there is an 11-minute penalty. Add the extra waiting time (10 minutes, to be very charitable) and those 5 minutes of walking turn into a 26-minute penalty.

And the MTA and NJT expect passengers to pay for an extra ticket for the privilege.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 4:34 pm

Five ten minutes to go from the 2/ 3 to the NJ Transit side of Penn Station? It NEVER takes me that long, for me it’s three minutes at worst including the stairs.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 5:28 pm

I’ll time it next time I’m there, but 5 minutes platform to platform sounds like a low estimate to me.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:00 am

Do you want to pay three fares on a daily commute?

Bolwerk July 20, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Heads up to all: “alen” is likely Ryan trying to suck y’all into a Sisyphean debate or whatever the hell his motivation is.

Phantom July 19, 2013 - 10:07 pm

If money grew on trees, and if NY knew how to manage projects, could not a PATH extension to Flatbush go to JFK at one end, and EWR at the other?

knitting together the region like few projects I could think of, and a huge shot in the arm for downtown NY.

And taking tons of cars off the road.

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alen July 20, 2013 - 8:49 pm

i think i’ve only been to Newark airport once, but what is the point of a train from NJ to JFK when there is an airport right off I-95?

I know people take the train to JFK, but i will never do it again. I took the air train one time and that was enough for me. I swear it was like a half mile walk from the platform to the terminal. from now on i take a car service.

Eric July 21, 2013 - 6:25 am

Competition.

Phantom July 21, 2013 - 1:21 pm

There will be times when the best time or the cheapest flight is from JFK. The many more Jetblue flights to FL can be a big attraction.

JFK and EWR are roughly identical in distance from Manhattan. If the service is not to be ” Jersey vommuter focused ” but ” NY NJ Regional focused ‘ going to both big airports would make complete sense.

Henry July 21, 2013 - 2:18 am

A conventional-train/AirTrain hybrid is the only transit project I would rather not revive.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:02 am

It should be the other way around – the LIRR should be extended to Fulton, to provide direct access to Downtown. Then, the LIRR will have stations relatively close to all of the CBDs in Manhattan – Midtown, Downtown, and Hudson Yards (it’s far enough away that I wouldn’t consider it “Midtown”).

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Tim July 21, 2013 - 8:45 pm

Chicago? Um…

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 8:39 am

PATH is legally a “real” railroad, yep, subject to FRA oversight. It historically partnered and shared track (or was supposed to) with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

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Avi July 19, 2013 - 8:43 am

PATH is currently under FRA and is considered a “real” rail. Should it be? Probably not. If it were built today, would it be, probably not. But because it runs over FRA rail lines in Jersey it’s considered rail.

Incidentally, I’ve always thought a better use of the tubes into WTC would be to continue NJT trains from Hoboken into WTC and then if possible continue on to Brooklyn and JFK. If you took all the money spent on WTC PATH and Fulton St I imagine you would have gotten a good chunk of the way there, and it would have provided much more benefit than 2 fancy stations with no new transit options.

Imagine if the WTC station truly was a Grand Central south with NJT and LIRR riders coming right into Wall Street rather than having to go through midtown.

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Mike K July 19, 2013 - 11:36 am

That would have caused a ridership explosion on the Hoboken & Atlantic divisions and made Lower Manhattan much more competitive with midtown.

But, the powers that be (NYMTC & NJTPA) would not work together – and the railroads (LIRR & NJT) would not work together.

If Corzine and Pataki had wanted to build a Grand Central South they wouldn’t have focused on the ARC Tunnel and East Side Access as heavily.

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Bgriff July 19, 2013 - 1:51 pm

Aren’t PATH tunnel dimensions much too small for NJT? Even for a theoretical new smaller train size? PATH is basically IRT-sized, not even IND-sized, never mind mainline rail-sized.

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Marc Shepherd July 19, 2013 - 8:44 am

I think Ben omits a lot of key points. Grand Central Terminal served a transit purpose; but it was way over-built for that purpose. In fact, after the Penn Central bankruptcy, many people wanted to demolish it for that reason, as was done to the old Penn Station, to the ever-lasting regret of most transit advocates.

It’s true that those two spaces were built by private enterprise, but the public pays for Grand Central’s upkeep, and would have had to pay for the old Penn to survive. There are even grander spaces that were taxpayer-funded from the beginning. Look at the U.S. Capitol, for instance: its lavish dome is purely decorative, with no practical use whatsoever. Or the pedastal on Liberty Island, a multi-million-dollar stand for an artwork. Until you understand why those structures were built, you’ll never understand why a structure like the PATH terminal could be great.

I’m not saying the PATH project is immune to criticism, but Ben seems to want all his architecture to be purely utile. If he’d been in charge, the U.S. Capitol would be two boxy rooms with no dome, and he’d have told the French to keep their damned statue for themselves.

Does the project do anything for an extension of path towards brooklyn?

The logical extension was to connect it to the 6 Train, which was suggested and briefly considered after 9/11. It would have been pretty challenging, but it was certainly a far more useful and practical idea than an extension to Brooklyn.

Also, why is path classified as “real” rail and not metro?

PATH was built as a main-line railroad, and it still has track connections to the Northeast Corridor. Those connections aren’t used in revenue service, but from a regulatory perspective it means that PATH is run like a railroad, not like a subway. In most respects it resembles a subway, but it wasn’t built as one and has never been re-classified.

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 9:21 am

I want to prioritize. Nice architecture is great (though it’s a stretch to call that porcupine thing “nice”), but it doesn’t improve the economy the way good transit does. There were better uses of $3.5 billion, and they are now sunk.

Not that it matters much from a regulatory perspective (I think only what is used in service actually matters), but PATH is pretty much completely severed from mainline rail now. I think there is one remaining connection for things like car delivery. I believe the NYC subway has two.

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Nathanael July 21, 2013 - 11:10 pm

I’m a believer in integrating form with function — art as design, rather than art as “something else”.

City Beautiful train station architecture did that. The tiled walls of the IRT did that.

I don’t think the Calatrava stegosaurus does that, and it is very expensive.

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Bolwerk July 22, 2013 - 12:52 am

Architecture aside, City Beautiful always struck me as a pretty idiotic ideology that largely ignored function.

Nathanael July 22, 2013 - 3:56 pm

Well, the *idea* was to make everything beautiful as you walked by. It’s a contrast to the later design theory of “Brutalism”.

I’m honestly not sure how “City Beautiful” thinking would apply to anything *but* architecture. It’s really easy to take an idea and stretch it way outside its context.

Bolwerk July 23, 2013 - 1:22 am

The focus was on both architecture and surroundings. Big, dense cities get eschewed for a more natural (rustic?) look that is supposed to enhance civic virtue or someshit. Yep, basically the same argument made by housing project proponents. I’m pretty sure the whole reason later forms of modernism (Le Corbusier, brutalism) became popular was precisely because City Beautiful was so impractical even in theory when it came to scale and function, though maybe I’m channeling Jane Jacobs in saying that.

Not to say City Beautiful didn’t make nice contributions to urban space, but as an ideology it was a bit ridiculous.

Chris C July 19, 2013 - 9:25 am

I am always suspicious of these sorts of estinmated that say ‘If X was built today it could cost Y’ which use a very old cost updated for some unspecified rate of inflation.

But if GC was being built today it wouldn’t cost Y because no once would build GC as it is now so such a debate is moot.

I know Ben does not like the new station (or it’s cost) but in the Times article it states that the PA doubled the number of spines on the porcupine and that it was the Mayor (and others) who demanded that the mezannine skylights be removed. How much did those changes cost?

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Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2013 - 9:50 am

I’m going to once again defend myself here because I do actually like architecture and don’t want things to be only functional. I think we’re going to be surprised at how bland the new SAS stations look, for starters. They’ll be the subway station equivalent of the way the new rolling stock all looks the same.

I think we have to have a serious discussion about trade-offs and costs. We should be able to do the engineering work and build a subway station — because that’s what this is — for less than four billion (with a b) dollars. That’s half of the projected ARC costs, and ARC doubled rail capacity underneath the Hudson River.

That’s my hang-up. Are we spending money wisely when limited funds are available? If not, what can we do about it? For a grand total of $5.5 billion we’re constructing two subway stations with a lot of retail space with limited benefits to transit riders. Is demand there for retail? Is there some other transit project we could spend the money on that would better benefit New Yorkers?

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 11:26 am

Yes, that’s another thing. Small scale things can be beautiful too. Look at the original City Hall IRT station.

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SEAN July 19, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Ben,

Let me chime in here. As someone who is of low vision & uses JAWS a screen reader, even I have noticed the disconnect between your view of costs & the “perseption” of being antiarchitecture. Perhaps a rearangement of words in your posts will lessen such perseptions, or a SLIGHT downplay of the cost fixation might help. As important as costs might be & the amount of waist that exists, lets except the realisation that a serious drop in costs in US construction won’t happen & move on from there. If we don’t, then important infrastructure projects will never get built no matter how criticle they maybe.

Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2013 - 12:11 pm

lets except the realisation that a serious drop in costs in US construction won’t happen

I refuse to accept that premise. It’s a matter of political will. If we wanted costs to go down, costs would go down.

Jeff July 19, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Its not going to happen Ben. Period.

Organized labor is too entrenched. Even if you think that might change, just the simple fact that there is a significant lack of qualified contractors in this part of the country for heavy civil/tunneling work means prices will ALWAYS be high. No politician can all of a sudden make these types of qualified contractors appear.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 2:49 pm

It’s not just labor. You need to take into account for all the political hand greesing there is in these construction sites. The union worker with a rivit gun in his hand is happy to have a pay check & health coverage. They are not the ones making the decisions on wich politition will court them the best favors. Lets not lose site of the big picture.

Nathanael July 21, 2013 - 11:12 pm

Remember the owners of the dilapidated buildings holding up the MTA for repair costs, even though the buildings were unsound and in need of repair before the Second Avenue Subway started digging? Remember the Department of Buildings doing nothing and letting the building owners get away with it?

There’s a culture of chiseling which goes WAY beyond the unions — the biggest chiselers are in private corporate management.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:05 am

Not even that – low-cost Spanish construction firms have affiliates here, but they charge the same price. A lot of it is due to bidding processes that don’t get rid of conflicts of interests – if the engineering firm coming up with blueprints is also allowed to bid on construction, then they have every incentive to jack costs up to raise their profits. Only when conflicts like these are removed will the system start to work.

alen July 19, 2013 - 3:35 pm

digging tunnels is a fairly specialized skill. not many contractors can do it. which is why they charge what they want.

not like you can take anyone off the street and tell them to safely dig a tunnel under the city

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 6:07 pm

It’s a specialized skill anywhere. Somehow, Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, and Fukuoka manage to do it for $250 million a kilometer. Probably has to do because they’re tiny, low-density cities without much older infrastructure.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 12:18 pm

First, why accept that costs won’t drop?

Second, some projects are still okay at present costs, even if they could be done for a fraction of the cost, e.g. SAS. Others aren’t. If the choice is between a PATH terminal for $4 billion and no PATH terminal, then I’d vote for no PATH terminal. Not everything should be built at any cost.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Well based on that line of reasoning, nothing will get built. This isn’t Spain or China.

Part of the problem is everyone is expecting a tribute, that’s just the cost of doing business related to construction.

Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Alon and Ben are right. There are more positions available than “build a present costs” or “don’t build at present costs.” There needs to be an honest discussion about cost, and how to bring it down to sane first world levels. That doesn’t mean Spain or China, but it probably means something comparable to Germany or Japan.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 3:34 pm

It’s interesting that people say “Spain or China.” Spain and China are not equivalent. They’re separated by a factor of about 2.5 for subways and at least 3 for high-speed rail. The “China builds things fast and cheap” meme still lingers.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 4:26 pm

I was comparing Spain & China to the US, not to one another.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:53 pm

Then nothing should get built. Money has an opportunity cost: tax cuts, health care, police, education, social welfare, public housing. You’ll be surprised how many things there are in New York that don’t cost 7 times as much as in peer first-world cities.

Henry July 21, 2013 - 2:20 am

The most surprising one would be real estate per square foot. Hong Kong beats Fifth Av by about $2K USD/sq ft.

David July 19, 2013 - 8:51 am

The PATH is classified as “real” rail mainly for historical reasons–it used to share track with the Pennsy on the Jersey side. Even though those connections no longer exist, it’s still subject to the FRA hence its designation as “real” rail.

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MRB July 19, 2013 - 11:22 am

The train portion of that ride is about 22 minutes (from Newark to WTC).

You may have gotten the 44 minutes things because at 230am, when you posted, frequency is only every 30 minutes.

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Ian MacAllen July 19, 2013 - 11:55 am

Actually, 35 minutes, a ridiculously long interval at any hour. Also, while once upon a time, the trains left on every hour and half hour, now, thanks to the 35 minute schedule, they are follow some silly pattern thats impossible to memorize.

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Andre L. July 19, 2013 - 2:21 pm

Get over it. There are smartphones, website, apps to keep you updated to actual scheduling. It is better to have a reliable schedule that is non-memorizable than a easy-to-remember schedule that is not adhered to.

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 2:32 pm

It doesn’t matter how you get your information. Not adhering to the schedule is a big no-no.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:09 am

If leaving every half an hour is difficult for an agency to adhere to, heads need to roll.

Not to mention, not everyone is wealthy enough to own a smartphone, or have texting, or has a laptop or tablet on hand. Plus, there are many areas with poor or no cell service in this city, even in this day and age. Technology is a solution, but it is not the magic potion that solves all of our ills at once.

Andre L. July 21, 2013 - 5:09 pm

Depending on the physical infrastructure of the line, you’d need more rolling stock to operate on – say – 30 instead of 35 minutes interval.

The issue is not the interval as much as it is the total travel time. If 35 is the optimal interval, running a 30-min interval would mean trains idling for 25 minutes at their terminus waiting for the “right” departure time.

Ben July 21, 2013 - 9:12 pm

Trains idle for a long time at the WTC late at night. 10-15 minutes every time, at least. It’s definitely not optimized.

Bolwerk July 22, 2013 - 12:19 am

It’s not so evil to idle an electric train as it is a diesel train. Also idling in a yard is a little different than idling in a station with passengers boarding.

Ike July 19, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Yeah, the late-night 35-minute intervals drive me absolutely insane. Way to go, Port Authority, you vile scumbags. Sure, go ahead, victimize late-shift workers, some of the most vulnerable people around. Also let’s not forget how they failed to provide substitute bus service for months after Sandy while late-night PATH service was completely shut down for repairs. It was their responsibility and they just couldn’t be bothered. I’d like to know how many late-night workers lost their jobs because of that. Probably more than a few.

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AlexB July 19, 2013 - 3:19 am

It’s sad how much money was wasted on duplicate transit stations that provide no new capacity, but the money’s gone. I’d rather have had another phase of the Second Avenue Subway, but now I just want this station to finally open.

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John-2 July 19, 2013 - 5:03 am

I suppose the hub will get a little more use if the new terminal does a better job of integrating the PATH station with the reborn Cortlandt Street station on the 1, the Chambers Street terminal for the E and the R stop at Cortlandt and Church.

That still doesn’t justify the costs, but given the retail space planned, if MTA riders can transverse the mega-porcupine as a way to get direct access to their IRT, IND and BMT trains, as opposed to the original WTC set-up which shunted them off to the edges, it might also have uses for people who aren’t headed to and from New Jersey (the Port Authority’s original 1971 WTC design seemed set up to keep the MTA’s trains and the rest of the neighborhood at a distance as much as possible — the access points were in far better proximity the 55 years before then, when the H&M trains were using Hudson Terminal).

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 8:42 am

The 1 Train station is fully integrated with the Transportation Hub – much of its northbound platform actually opens up to a wide staircase that leads up to Oculus.

The point of having all the “underground corridors” the NY Post described is to connect the Fulton Street and all of the subway lines in the area, as well as to surrounding destinations (ie the WFC, Battery Park City, etc.). One can argue that the Fulton Center will serve a similar purpose, but unlike that one the WTC Hub doubles as a commercial asset for generating tons of rent revenue for the PA from all the retailers who will be there.

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John-2 July 19, 2013 - 9:19 am

Will the space on the east end of the new Hub remain wide in the areas accessing the A/C/E and the R stations? Both those were basically pushed out of the way of the main WTC concourse in the initial 1971 layout (though as years went on the Port Authority and the MTA did a better job making access to the R/W trains at Cortlandt part of the mall area).

I’m sure the retailers who cater to commuters aren’t going to care where they’re commuting to and from, and would want access to the Eighth Avenue and Broadway lines to be just as natural from the Hub as accessing PATH and the 1 train will be. But that’s definitely not how the station is being sold by the Port Authority to the public, for whatever reason — if people are familiar with the project, most would assume the site will pretty much be a New Jersey commuter-only project that New Yorkers traveling to and from the area will have to go out of their way to access.

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 9:45 am

There are public corridors w/ retail underneath Towers 2 and 3 that will connect the subways with the Hub Oculus

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John-2 July 19, 2013 - 11:45 am

Corridors with retail space? That was always the rub about the A/C/E link to the PATH concourse before — when PATH/H&M was at Hudson Terminal, the A/AA/E entrance pretty much dropped you off right at the terminal — the 1971 plan treated the IND station as something to be cordoned off from the commuter area and retail options for PATH customers (which kind of fit with the overall mindset of the original World Trade Center, which other than the Church Street side was designed to have nothing to do with the rest of the neighborhood).

Jeff July 19, 2013 - 1:35 pm

That’s just how the logistics are. The E Train is situated on the far northeast corner of the site. The only way to get there from the Oculus is through the Tower 2 basement.

However there IS a difference between this site plan and the 1971 one and that’s the fact that there is now a connection to Fulton Street all the way to the east of the site. Which means the ‘E’ isn’t really “cordoned off”, it’s integrated into a network of public spaces that link together a big selection of transportation options in the area.

John-2 July 20, 2013 - 4:24 pm

That was the problem with the old site. Other than the nearby newsstand, there was no integration of the E’s entrance point to the commercial/retail part of the WTC’s mall, as if the Port Authority decided retailers didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone using the subway. As much money as the hub’s costing, it needs to make it attractive to as many people as possible, including those not going to and from New Jersey.

Nathanael July 22, 2013 - 4:00 pm

Well, FWIW, integration with the R station is going to be really good — the entire design is set up to point PATH commuters directly to the R station.

The traffic flow design is also good for going to the 4/5, though since they’re overcrowded already, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

The connection to the E is a little bit out of the way and somewhat vague. The connection to the A/C is through Fulton St. Transit Center.

But the connection to the R is really good, so there’s that.

martindelaware July 19, 2013 - 5:57 am

Nobody should be referring to this as a “new” station. It’s not new. It’s a very, very expensive renovation of an existing station.

Will the tracks in the renovated station be any closer to the center of the island, or is the “giant porcupine” (great phrase) just a long corridor leading to tracks that will remain in their existing locations?

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BoerumHillScott July 19, 2013 - 8:25 am

Without a breakdown of costs (which I understand the PA will not provide), any discussion about the cost/benefit of the transit aspect of this
project is kind of pointless.
As has been pointed out many times before, this project is much larger than the PATH station.

Is is interesting that the anti-transit, anti-goverment Post claims that the transit center made everything else more expensive, when preivious complaints about the project complained that it was subsidizing common infrastructure of the rest of the WTC, and that the memorial made the transit center project more expensive.

One thing I have still not seen in any discussions is alternate proposals of what should have been done at the concourse level of the WTC, and how much that would have cost.

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marv July 19, 2013 - 8:28 am

Keep in mind that PATH is IRT (or almost IRT) loading gauge. Extending to Brooklyn would mean a reduction (usually not desirable) in loading gauge on the Brooklyn Segment.

There was a proposal to connect the downtown PATH and the #6. I thought that it was a great idea as it would have given a one seat ride to the East Side (including Grand Central, Museum Row etc.) to a large population center in NJ. It would have provided an easy 1 transfer ride for NJ transit and Amtrak users coming from the south (possibly even allowing some Amtrak trains to terminate in Newark to relieve some pressure on NY Penn Station.)

Extending Path (as has been proposed) one stop south to Newark/Liberty airport (either with a stop a the people mover/monorail or a Station in the terminal area) would have provide a big boost toward removing “flyers” from the roads.

Trains to Yankee Stadium would have been possible.(This could have been for game days only or all full time as Yankee Stadium parking could be used by Liberty Airport users coming from Westchester, Ct, and other points north ease of the Hudson)

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 8:50 am

Extending the PATH is the biggest common sense improvement to regional transportation that isn’t being done right now. Its not going to be too expensive since most of the infrastructure is there. And building it would benefit everybody in the tri-state area, not just NJians.

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JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 10:23 am

As I mentioned above, it currently takes about the same amount of time to get from newark to lower Manhattan via path as it does via penn and transfer. Using Path to get from Newark to grand central would take much too long.

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Joseph Steindam July 19, 2013 - 12:08 pm

That’s not true. The PATH takes 25 minutes to get to WTC from Newark. The best NJ Transit trains take 20 minutes to get from Newark to Penn Station. Then you have to transfer to the subway. It’s at least an additional 15 minutes more. Plus PATH trains run more frequently than NJ Transit because NJ Transit capacity into Manhattan includes trains that don’t go to Newark Penn Station.

You’re also ignoring the fact that the PATH is $2.25, which is less than half the cost of a NJ Transit trip at $5.00.

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JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 1:25 pm

Put it into google maps. 45 min vs 55. Having used path a few times, its very slow.

It takes longer to get from newark to 33rd via path than via NJT by a long shot as well.

But yes, theres the price difference

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Eric F July 19, 2013 - 1:41 pm

It’s too bad there’s no PATH express service. Some passing trackage would allow for a straight shot Newark to WTC ride in around 15 minutes. As it is, the trip involves stops and mixing with trains bound for midtown.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 2:59 pm

Why in the world are you taking PATH to reach 33rd Street from Newark?

JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Because its direct and cheap? Why did they build it if not to use?

Henry July 21, 2013 - 2:23 am

They built it for Hoboken passengers in the days before Secaucus.

Secaucus is still a really crappy transfer though, and all the trains out of that station are full, so heck, I would use the PATH from Hoboken to 33rd every day if I had to.

Ike July 19, 2013 - 3:52 pm

What the heck are you talking about? I ride the Newark-WTC PATH every day. It’s 22 minutes. And there are rarely any delays.

Google can be wrong, you know. I don’t know what Google says, but try riding it and timing it. And I don’t even like the Port Authority.

As I recall, they used to have a few express PATH trains to WTC, but it didn’t save much time. The interval between trains is only 5 minutes during rush hour so it was probably difficult to maintain without catching up to local trains.

JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 4:31 pm

I went off the google times because whenever I ride it is on weekends, and those times are very different. That being said, I did specify wall st and not WTC. So add 10 minutes to your 22 minute time.

Eric F July 19, 2013 - 9:29 am

It’s hard to imagine a PATH extension east. Coordination with NYC government for a project that “benefits New Jersey” seems about as likely as me winning an Olympic medal in figure skating. The grand station, with a prominent above ground presence in Manhattan for the first time may trigger thoughts in a greater number of important people about what PATH could be, which would probably entail extensions westward.

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 11:28 am

Mind you, the grand station is “for New Jersey” too! However, you may be right. It just doesn’t seem to occur to them that a Brooklyn-NJ ROW could help both places, and even if it doesn’t it helps Brooklyn without hurting New Jersey.

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Ian MacAllen July 19, 2013 - 11:57 am

Voters and elected officials are very small minded. The arbitrary lines of a map don’t really dictate a metropolitan area’s economic and cultural zones, but everyone involved always ends up whining about “their” state’s fair share.

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JJJJ July 19, 2013 - 4:32 pm

Why is why the PA is in a position to steamroll that opposition. They can try to connect their airport empire with PATH

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SEAN July 19, 2013 - 10:05 am

Westfield the mall giant is in effect subsidizing a portion of the costs incurred by the PA with it’s management contract to opperate the retail areas of the WTC.

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Larry Littlefield July 19, 2013 - 10:06 am

“Is this pet project of the PA’s New Jersey side worth it?”

I’m not sure I blame New Jersey for this. That isn’t how I remember it. I blame the aesthetics lobby in New York, the same sort of people now trying to direct resources to the new MSG/Penn Station. Notably the Municipal Art Society.

Until someone starts connecting the (future) costs with the benefits, these sorts of interests will always get a free shot. How about “sorry, we can’t improve mass transit and have to keep cutting it because the MAS won?”

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g July 19, 2013 - 10:34 am

I’m relatively confident that the retail rents will eventually cover the cost of the project and provide a steady stream of cash for the PA. Did this have to be done? No. Will it eventually be ok? Probably.

This project did nothing to increase capacity but at least will greatly smooth and improve the situation for current PATH users and the sea of tourists descending on lower Manhattan. Given the tight constraints on trans-hudson capacity the money could certainly have been spent elsewhere to greater effect.

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 10:52 am

“Did this have to be done? No.”
Actually, yes. Because they need to rebuild the WTC infrastructure somehow.

They didn’t have to go with Calatrava. But the Calatrava design is what’s allowing them to charge ridiculously high rent for the retail spaces in there.

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g July 19, 2013 - 11:32 am

By “this” I mean a half million square foot retail center inside an almost comically over budget replacement station designed by someone notorious for huge cost overruns with lax oversight.

On the long term I’m more forgiving since the rents will wipe out the expenditure, though had less been originally spent the payback period would be a lot shorter.

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 1:42 pm

You are completely missing the point.

The World Trade Center ruins was a gigantic hole in the ground. They NEED to build this station to replace all of the infrastructure that would help support the PATH Station AS WELL AS all of the towers on the WTC site. The retail space is there because there is so much public space underground that is needed to connect all of the towers to the train station.

ALL of this is required to get the World Trade Center opened up. Remember the old WTC had a giant subterranean mall also. Its not a matter of choice.

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SEAN July 19, 2013 - 11:40 am

I could be wrong, but I recall either reading here or seeing it on the news that there was a small minority that didn’t want the WTC rebuilt at all. They just wanted the mamorial & that’s it. However in order for Larry Silverstein to receive the insurance on the WTC, some reconstruction would need to happen. In other words, he couldn’t take it as a total loss & walk away.

Please correct me if I’m mistaken in any way.

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John-2 July 19, 2013 - 11:54 am

I think the idea was the eight acres where Tower 1 and Tower 2 were located west of Greenwich would never be redeveloped for commercial office space, leaving the eight acres between Greenwich and Church to handle the load of replacing all of the square footage Silverstein lost. But you couldn’t get that much space onto the site, which is why the area between Greenwich and Washington Streets down to Albany Street was acquired, so there would be room for the replacement office space in generally the same location (although from a transit standpoint, the eventual SE area of the new WTC footprint will actually be closer to the Rector Street 1 station than it will be to the new Calatrava transit hub).

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SEAN July 19, 2013 - 12:19 pm

OK, that explanes it.

Thanks.

MRB July 19, 2013 - 11:09 am

Did you really say “at just twice the PATH Hub cost” to describe East Side Access while simultaneously decrying the PATH Hub as twice the cost of Grand Central?

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Benjamin Kabak July 19, 2013 - 11:25 am

There is a slight amount of tongue-in-cheek there. Still, ESA and GCT shouldn’t be compared to the PATH Hub. One is a subway stop; the other two are decidedly not.

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D in Bushwick July 19, 2013 - 12:24 pm

The continued kvetching about the PATH Hub station cost only really occurs because it is such a visual reminder to the ridiculous money spent on this project. But Calatrava’s steel cage structure will not cost $4 Billion or even $1 Billion. Much of the money will go for overcharges and other corrupt activities.
Much of the cost is going for the rest of the mall complex which will generate revenue from the suburban commuters who will be relieved from actually experiencing NYC.
The MTA’s $600 million South Ferry rebuild and the canceled station for the 7 Train extension also indicates NYC has a serious problem getting things done.
But Calatrava’s design is the absolute visual reminder of this region’s failed transit capabilities which include the genesis of this blog.

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Eric F July 19, 2013 - 1:23 pm

“Much of the cost is going for the rest of the mall complex which will generate revenue from the suburban commuters who will be relieved from actually experiencing NYC.”

You mean not shopping at vendors selling stolen trinkets from blankets on the sidewalk on lower Broadway? There is little to no legit. retail downtown. I’m not sure whether rents in this area in the Internet age will be high at all, but there is a need now for retail and the need will only increase with a larger local residential population and with the build out of the commercial space. I don’t understand how shopping in there is akin to now “experiencing” New York, whatever that means.

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 1:53 pm

http://therealdeal.com/blog/20.....reactions/

They are asking for an astronomical $550/sf in the Hub retail space. They can do that because they think the Calatrava design will make this a huge landmark and attract tourists from all over. Heck, the fact that they are sticking this building on every driver license in NYS means they are going to market this thing as the new symbol of NY. And they might just get away with it.

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D in Bushwick July 19, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Jeff, you’ve hit the nail on the head!
The Hub will be the real symbol of the new WTC and a sanitized mall below with all the same shops every other US mall has is the crowning achievement of American corporate banality.
What tourist and suburban commuter wouldn’t want that?!
The cost will be forgotten once the doors open.

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lawhawk July 19, 2013 - 4:10 pm

That ignores that the mall at the WTC before it was destroyed was one of the most profitable in the nation. Westfield is anticipating those kinds of rents because that’s what kind of rents they anticipated before 9/11 and the mall extends to the lower floors of 2, 3, and 4 WTC (again harkening back to the location of several retailers in the WTC pre-9/11).

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:18 am

It’s pretty much the only top-tier retail space in that general area. Bleecker and Herald Square may be seeing rents skyrocket, but once you get south of Canal the quality of retail space drops dramatically. Even the Century 21 flagship downtown is old and decrepit-looking.

Heck, it’s a hell lot cheaper than Bleecker even, because rents over there are going for at least a thousand/sf. So it’s not totally unreasonable.

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Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:55 pm

What are you talking about? Lower Manhattan is full of retail: small restaurants, clothing stores, groceries, cafes, etc. It has less of it than Midtown, but it still has a lot. When I walked up Broadway in freezing-point weather dressed expecting it to be 10 C, there were plenty of brick-and-mortar stores I could get into every block to hide from the cold.

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Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 2:34 pm

I was about to say. Also, there is the Seaport and stuff like Century 21, destinations in their own right.

Then I figured maybe Eric is talking about “marginal” retail. For the most part, it’s not the high-end stuff.

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Eric F July 19, 2013 - 3:06 pm

The Seaport is another nexus but it’s really way too far to walk from Church Street.

There is lots of lousy, marginal retail in lower Manhattan. The WTC was a massive retail nexus, even given that most of its stuff was in a rather unattractive subterranean space with little above-ground visibility. The chain retail outlets in there were generally the top performing stores worldwide in their respective chains.

The need for nice retail is probably greater now than it was circa 2001 because the residential population has built up so much.

Compared with lower Manhattan, midtown is like one huge open air shopping mall.

I’m less certain that high rents are coming (1) post dot.com shopping and (2) due to general skittishness about making high end purchases at what is still “ground zero”, but the junk on Fulton Street is no match for an attractive, spacious functioning retail corridor at the site.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 3:38 pm

I don’t see why the government needs to get involved in that if the point is for the stores to make a profit. If there’s that much demand, a high-end retailer can buy out one of the stores on Fulton or Lower Broadway. For the basic social functions of retail – keeping the street lively at all hours, providing quick food outlets for people on lunch break – what the area has is enough.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:25 am

This is where the Port Authority’s weird role as a property developer (sort of) comes in – prior to 9/11, it ran an extremely profitable mall with lots of high-end goodies. There hasn’t really been a replacement of those facilities since – Manhattan Mall isn’t even a mall, and the stores in Midtown, Herald, and Bleecker aren’t clustered together – Herald is the closest thing to chain-sized stores that exist in the borough, and Bleecker is getting way too cramped. I don’t think there’s a property developer in the world able to bankroll something like the World Trade Center complex (more office space than all of Downtown Atlanta) without itself taking an extremely huge risk (coincidentally, what is occurring at Atlantic and Hudson Yards).

It’ll basically be the downtown equivalent of Time Warner Center, except probably more accessible.

AG July 21, 2013 - 11:27 pm

i think it was more for the suburbanites who worked downtown…. and this is also to serve them… and the tourists. I have a feeling downtown residents prefer street shopping… Isn’t there also retail at Brookfield (former known as the World Financial Center)?

Henry July 21, 2013 - 11:39 pm

The retail at Brookfield has all been closed and is undergoing renovations for the planned opening of the WTC Hub.

Henry July 21, 2013 - 11:41 pm

It was also mostly bakeries, coffee shops, Godiva – basically small-medium food shops and restaurants. Certainly nothing like the WTC mall is hoping to attract (which I’m guessing will be closer to Time Warner Center in terms of shopping choices)

AG July 24, 2013 - 7:54 pm

they are re-positioning it now to compete with the WTC mall:

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/a.....ewsletters

Sarah July 19, 2013 - 3:45 pm

I commute from New Jersey to Brooklyn on a daily basis. While the PATH may come out slightly cheaper than NJT, I eventually decided it was not worth the headache of multiple transfers and sluggish travel times.

If you’ve ever seen the hordes of people trying to cross intersections from the WTC PATH to Fulton Street subway stops, the tunnel is obviously a great idea. But the lack of additional tracks in the future “hub” is maddening to me. PATH trains at rush hour are filled to capacity, with the rush for seats more cutthroat than on any subway line. It’s standard procedure for a train to pull away leaving dozens of people on the platform already looking for the next one. The random train intervals don’t mesh well with catching NJT trains at Newark, either.

I’d rather navigate ugly Penn Station every day than deal with the PATH – it’s that depressing.

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lawhawk July 19, 2013 - 4:19 pm

The PATH is apparently working on a new signal system allowing trains to operate closer together (allowing more frequent service). At the same time, the NWK-WTC line is supposed to get upgrades to 10-car platforms, enabling more capacity during rush hour.

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Jeff July 19, 2013 - 9:33 pm

Not to mention the final WTC station will be back to being 5 tracks instead of the 3 that it currently is, so it WILL be an improvement over the way it is now

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Alon Levy July 22, 2013 - 9:31 am

…and why does the WTC station need 5 tracks when the 7 at Times Square does with 2?

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Jeff July 22, 2013 - 11:09 am

They want to be able to accommodate 250,000 riders a day.

The entire Time Square complex only has 200,000 daily riders, so the 7 train platforms are probably a fraction of that.

Alon Levy July 22, 2013 - 11:54 am

Can the Hudson tunnels accommodate 250,000 riders a day? If not, it’s pointless to have so many station tracks. How long does it take to clear a full train’s worth of passengers from the platforms?

Bolwerk July 22, 2013 - 12:26 pm

I can’t really find a definitive answer: is the station being overbuilt to accommodate the LIRR someday or not?

Jeff July 22, 2013 - 12:49 pm

Here’s what the WTC website says:
“Enhanced permanent PATH facilities and services incorporating three full-service extended 10-car platforms, as well as an additional platform to accommodate service needs and five tracks.”

http://www.wtc.com/about/transportation-hub

It does sound like there’s room for expansion.

Jeff July 22, 2013 - 12:50 pm

However, the WTC PATH station had always been 5 tracks (the Hudson Terminal was 6, IIRC)

Alon Levy July 22, 2013 - 2:43 pm

I doubt it, but in any case, the LIRR wouldn’t be using PATH platforms. The LIRR shouldn’t even try to use PATH platforms; a large-diameter deep bore allows avoiding near-surface infrastructure almost entirely, which is especially necessary in Lower Manhattan with its narrow streets lack of good ROW west of where they want to put SAS Phase 4.

Henry July 22, 2013 - 7:08 pm

At the very least, the station hall is definitely designed to accommodate more people than it would hold as just a PATH station. PATH is big – something on the order of 200,000 people a day into Midtown and Downtown – but it’s not WTC Hub big.

AG July 22, 2013 - 6:48 pm

hopefully… would be nice.

Adam Smith July 19, 2013 - 4:24 pm

I have a great idea to lower labor costs! Force prison inmates to do the hard labor like the good ole days with the chain gangs. Heck the Chinese have their prisoners working in factories. It’s time to think outside the box. The Unions are too expensive and will probable dissolve in the next 50 years, use prisoners!

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Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 5:33 pm

Dear Americans: yours is the country with the largest number of prisoners per capita. Many of those prisons are privatized so that businesses can enjoy the profits of 19 cents an hour labor. Private prison operators and prison guards’ unions lobby for imprisoning more people for minor offenses instead. Please stop throwing stones from your glass house.

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Bolwerk July 20, 2013 - 1:34 pm

That’s what “conservatives” (read: fascists) call a public-private partnership. And conservatives (read: Democrats) go along for the ride because, hey, why argue with private industry getting the profit, and the public getting the bill?

I actually have been considering emigrating out. The authoritarianism here in the USA is appalling, and I don’t want to live under Mayor Weinerquinn.

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Alon Levy July 20, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Don’t worry, the NSA will keep following you around.

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Bolwerk July 20, 2013 - 6:03 pm

Yep, and so will the IRS. We also have a backdoor citizenship tax.

Nathanael July 21, 2013 - 11:19 pm

The problem is where to go.

Canada: Harper.
The UK: authoritarianism is nearly as bad as in the US
Europe: The European Central Bank is destroying it.
New Zealand: *damn* hard to get in.
Australia: on fire thanks to global warming….

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Nathanael July 21, 2013 - 11:19 pm

So what languages do you know other than English? 🙂

Bolwerk July 22, 2013 - 12:45 am

Eh, as policing goes, the UK isn’t as bad as the U.S.. You probably have to go to Russia to find a similar prison-industrial complex. Civil liberties in the EU are just generally better protected, except sometimes free expression. The EU in general is politically saner, but economically may as well be ruled by the GOP.

Yes, Harper, rising inequality and poverty, and…heh, Ford. Politically, Canada might be worse than the U.S., though it hasn’t fallen as far from a socioeconomic perspective yet.

I’d really rather stay near the Northern Atlantic Ocean since most of my extended family is in Germany or the New York area, so I don’t know if I’d be very interested in the Oceania region.

Alon Levy July 22, 2013 - 9:29 am

The EU in general is politically saner, but economically may as well be ruled by the GOP.

Except for the universal health care, the cheap or free college, and the unemployment benefits, sure. Don’t mistake austerity with economic conservatism. The questions “should the government run a fiscal deficit during a recession and recovery?” and “should the government raise taxes to pay for more social programs or slash social programs to reduce taxes?” are orthogonal.

Bolwerk July 22, 2013 - 10:52 am

Austerity is delusional economic liberalism. If by orthogonal, you mean unrelated, I’m not sure I agree. Either way, with modest levels of public debt in the core, many EU economies theoretically have a fair amount of leeway to borrow and spend. You know, if they want, and the EU lets them. On the monetary front they could be letting inflation run a bit higher to reduce the impact of debt in places like Greece and even Italy.

I don’t disagree with you about those things you list, but except maybe for unemployment I consider them more social policy than economic policy. GOP attacks on social programs smell more deliberate malice than coherent policy of any sort. Cutting food stamps is practically an attack on their friends in big agribusiness; it just happens to hurt poor people.

Nathanael July 22, 2013 - 4:01 pm

Haartz IV. ’nuff said.

Henry July 20, 2013 - 1:32 am

Remember, the PATH terminal was funded with federal dollars that had to be spent in Lower Manhattan. SAS definitely wasn’t eligible, since that money wouldn’t have gone very far (and wouldn’t have resulted in Phase IV construction). The only two transit projects under discussion at the time were this terminal (which wasn’t very expensive before NYPD came in and said it wasn’t safe enough, and called for changes – changes to a project design always cost extra, especially on a project like this), and Pataki’s wet dream of some weird Lower Manhattan-JFK LIRR-AirTrain hybrid, which might not even be technologically possible. That project was also planned to end at the WTC hub, so it would’ve actually served as a “gateway”, if you will.

Fulton was definitely the worse of the two, since at least PATH’s mall was just replacing something previously there. Unfortunately, by the time they changed their mind, they already demolished a sizable portion of a neighborhood, so it would’ve been bad to just leave it be.

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AG July 21, 2013 - 11:16 pm

well that wasn’t a “wet dream”…. other world financial centers such as Hong Kong have trains that go directly from the financial district to the airport. In fact the building where Hong Kong prints its currency has a subway stop right underneath for that purpose (it was built there).

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Henry July 21, 2013 - 11:19 pm

That’s not the part I had an issue with – the wet dream was building some sort of weird hybrid vehicle that could run on both LIRR (third rail, conventional power) and the AirTrain (fourth rail, linear induction motor using electromagnetic propulsion). It was very silly.

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