An underground train station at The World Trade Center site has reopened, restoring a commuter connection between lower Manhattan and New Jersey for the first time since September 11, 2001.
The newly rebuilt World Trade Center PATH station is inside the 6.5 hectare site that has become known as Ground Zero, and is the first public space to open within the previously blocked-off perimeter.
The PATH, which stands for Port Authority Trans-Hudson, is a train that runs underneath the Hudson River to connect New York to New Jersey. The railway was originally built in 1908, and was taken over by the Port Authority in 1962.
The World Trade Center stop has been closed since the terrorist attacks. New Jersey Governor James McGreevey said the re-opening of the train station marks a step forward in the commitment to restore the World Trade Center to what it was built to be. "In 1962 the governors of New York and New Jersey had a shared vision of understanding the importance of building this region, investing in its infrastructure and recognizing the potential of this being the center of commerce for this great nation and the world. So yes, we commit to that vision here again today, some 40 plus years later," he said.
Construction on the new PATH station began 16-months ago. Officials estimate the project cost $566 million. The above-ground portion of the station is temporary, and will be added to as the World Trade Center transportation hub nears completion in 2006.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said rebuilding is the best way to honor the victims of the terrorist attack. "I don't think there is anything that we can do, in my mind, to really remember those 2,800 people we lost here, other than to do what the would want to do and build a real world for the people they left behind and make their senseless deaths meaningful in a real way," he said.
But not everyone is pleased by the opening of the new station.
A group of about 40 people from the Coalition of 9/11 Families gathered outside the World Trade Center site to protest the rebuilding of the station, part of which crosses the underground footprints of the twin towers.
Jeanne Evans lost her brother, firefighter Robert Evans, on September 11. She said she is angry that officials are calling the PATH station "temporary," because the below-ground tracks are permanent, and they interfere with the area she considers sacred ground. "We need to go down to bedrock, because that is where the boys were found. My brother was found over 20-meters below ground level. So I should be happy that you are going to give me the top 10 meters? It does not mean anything," she said.
The new PATH station is expected to service 280 trains and tens of thousands of passengers each day.