The head of the federal agency paying to build a transit hub at the World Trade Center site said Wednesday the project now costs about $3 billion, more than $500 million over its latest budget.Throw in the fact that Governor Paterson is going to have something to say about choosing the replacement for Port Authority Executive Director Anthony Shorris, and we might as well get back to calling this feature on A Blog For All, The Battle For Ground Zero.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, has sought for more than a year to cut costs for the winged-dome design for a PATH commuter rail hub at ground zero. Officials said in early 2007 that Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's design for the lower Manhattan hub would be modified but they have never released a new design. Construction began in 2005.
The project is primarily funded by a $1.9 billion grant from the Federal Transit Administration, which supports locally planned and operated mass transit systems. A consultant's report for the agency earlier this year concluded that the project as designed has almost no chance of being built for its $2.2 billion budget.
FTA Administrator James Simpson said Wednesday that based on the project's current budget documents, "if the project is as advertised as today, it's in the $3 billion range."
It appears that Shorris was ousted because he was favoring New Jerseyeans over New Yorkers for top positions within the bistate agency.
Newsday thinks that this is the time to push ahead and reset priorities at Ground Zero with the appointment of a new head honcho. Pushing ahead is a fine idea, and getting the memorial built is also most crucial, but so is ensuring that infrastructure is built that meets not only current needs, but the needs for Lower Manhattan for decades to come. And it's not like the memorial hasn't faced cash crunches either. Newsday seems to forget that the budget spiraled out of control before hard caps were made on what would be spent and tough decisions made on how to keep within a set budget. I have my doubts that they'll still make their budget, even with the $350 million in private funds raised thus far.
There's also talk floating around that the City and State may try to shift money from Ground Zero to the floundering Moynihan Station project, but I doubt that will pass muster with the feds, who made the money contingent on getting the PATH transit station built and not for projects in Midtown.