NY Officials Release Designs for WTC Area Highway

Thu June 26, 2003 - National Edition

NEW YORK (AP) State transportation officials released designs June 24

for two alternatives for rebuilding the busy stretch of highway near the

World Trade Center site — one with four lanes under ground and one with

all eight lanes at street level.

Although Gov. George Pataki has said he supports the tunnel option, the

state Department of Transportation will conduct environmental reviews of

both plans and will hold a public hearing in one year, said Rich Schmalz,

who is in charge of the highway project for the department.

Federal officials will decide between the alternatives at the end of 2004, he said.

The tunnel option would cost $860 million while the ”at-grade’ plan wouldcost $175 million, Schmalz said. A landscaped pedestrian promenade will add another $140 million to the cost of either plan.

Schmalz said the more expensive plan would depress four lanes of West

Street in front of the trade center site and leave four lanes at grade.

Through traffic would drop below grade just north of Albany Street and

rise to street level about eight blocks north at Murray Street.

Officials estimate that 75 percent of the cars would use the below-grade


Schmalz, who presented both alternatives at a briefing at the Customs

House a few blocks from the trade center site, said the tunnel alternative

would provide ”better connectivity for the pedestrians going from the trade

center site over to the World Financial Center.’

He said either choice would be paid for out of the $4.55 billion that

Congress allocated for lower Manhattan transportation improvements after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the trade center.

The section of the highway, Route 9A, was severely damaged by the attackand the recovery and cleanup efforts. A temporary roadway and pavement was installed.

The tunnel alternative would take two years to design and two and a half

years to build, Schmalz said, while the at-grade plan would take one year to design and one and a half years to build.

One choice that was previously under consideration, a longer tunnel costing $2.3 billion, has been rejected in part because of community opposition to what would have been a five-year construction project.