Downtown Express file photo by J.B. Nicholas
Work on the World Trade Center transit hub last month.
Port approves $542 million contract for train station
The Port Authority awarded the largest contract yet for the World Trade Center PATH hub last week, but executive director Chris Ward also warned that the impasse over the site’s office towers could cause delays.
The Federal Transit Administration is “very concerned” that the $3.2 billion train station will not open as scheduled in 2014, Ward said.
The problem is that much of the infrastructure for the hub is supposed to go in developer Larry Silverstein’s Church St. office towers. Silverstein and the Port are still arguing over when to build those towers and how to pay for them. An arbitration panel sent them back to the negotiating table at the end of January, giving them until March 12 to reach an agreement.
Ward said last week that the Port was still reviewing Silverstein’s latest offer, in which the developer said he would nix Tower 2 and put in up to $250 million of his own money to build Towers 3 and 4.
But the Port is already making plans to build Santiago Calatrava’s white-winged PATH hub without Silverstein, just in case.
“We are doing the engineering work to make sure we don’t jeopardize the transit hub,” Ward told reporters after the Port Authority’s board meeting last Thursday.
Ward said the Port would have to start working around Silverstein in the next five to six months. The arbitration panel concluded a few weeks ago that without a deal with Silverstein, a new design would add substantial costs and time to the project.
The dispute with Silverstein mostly affects the east side of the transit hub, but work on the west side got a boost last week as the Port Authority approved a $542 million contract for a sweeping underground hall, rail platforms and other infrastructure. The contract, awarded to Skanska USA, came in about 5 percent under the engineers’ estimate.
Before approving the contract, Anthony Sartor, who chairs the Port’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Subcommittee, wanted to make sure Skanska was prepared to take on such an important project.
“You talked to them about the A-team?” Sartor asked at the subcommittee meeting last Thursday. “We have to have the A-team.”
Steve Plate, the Port’s director of W.T.C. construction, replied that the Port was confident in Skanska’s work. Nonetheless, Sartor asked that his committee be briefed quarterly on the contract’s progress, and Plate agreed.
The Skanska contract will play an important role in getting the 9/11 memorial open by the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, as the Port has promised to do, because the memorial plaza lies directly on top of a western piece of the PATH station.
— Julie Shapiro