Port Authority Denies 18-Month Delay at WTC PATH Station

Some call it a bird, some call it a stegosaurus. We call it late to dinner.
Some call it a bird, some call it a stegosaurus. Ms. McKissack Daniel calls it late for dinner.

At $3.4 billion (or is it $3.8 billion?), the new Port Authority Trans-Hudson terminal at the World Trade Center will very likely be the single most expensive subway station on earth. Riders traveling between the Financial District and New Jersey have been using the $323 million temporary station since it opened a decade ago. And if you believe Cheryl McKissack Daniel, a subcontractor who did a short Q&A with The New York Times, the project will be delayed another 18 months due to damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy.

“The World Trade Center started out being about 48 months and quickly grew to about six years,” Ms. McKissack Daniel told The Times. “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.” The station was reportedly under 25 feet of water after the hurricane.

Before Hurricane Sandy, the new station was scheduled to open in 2015. An 18-month delay would push that date back to 2016, at the earliest.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, however, denied that there is any delay, and insisted that the station is still anticipated to be completed by 2015. They have not yet, however, responded to inquiries by The Observer regarding possible cost escalations to be borne by the Port Authority in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The project’s main contractor, Tishman Construction, a division of AECOM, also denied that there was any delay, sending The Observer a statement saying, “Ms. McKissack Daniel incorrectly informed the New York Times about the completion date of the WTC Transportation Hub.”

Ms. McKissack Daniel was unavailable to comment by press time.

The new Santiago Calatrava-designed terminal—a relatively small station, which currently serves only two lines with five tracks—has already been scaled back due to costs. The “wings” of the station, which resembles a giant rib cage, were once meant to open and close, but the design was neutered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under the leadership of Chris Ward, in favor of a stationary structure.

Especially since the global downturn, Mr. Calatrava has been criticized in his home country of Spain for his extravagant designs and ballooning costs. Last year, a left-wing Catalan political party started a website called Calatrava te la clava, which roughly translates to “Calatrava bleeds you dry.”

Update: Blogger Ben Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas claims to have some inside info on how the construction is going—and he says Sandy isn’t the only problem they’re having:

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.

Port Authority Denies 18-Month Delay at WTC PATH Station