WTC transit hub opens at cost of US$4 billion

In this Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 photo, construction workers put the final touches on the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York. The soaring, white transportation hub opening next week at the World Trade Center was designed to evoke a bird in flight, but it is hatching under a cloud. The head of the bi-state agency that controls the hub has blasted it as a symbol of excess with runaway costs approaching $4 billion. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


By Karen Matthews ,AP

NEW YORK — The soaring, white transportation hub opening next week at the World Trade Center was designed to evoke a bird in flight, but it is hatching under a cloud.

There will be no ribbon-cutting celebration when the train station’s grand hall, called the Oculus, opens this coming week because the head of the bi-state agency that controls the hub has blasted it as a “symbol of excess,” with runaway costs approaching US$4 billion.

That’s roughly the same price as the nation’s tallest skyscraper, next door — the 104-story One World Trade Center.

“The cost of projects, big and small, matters — a lot,” Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said in a statement through a spokesman. “Whether due to unforeseen conditions, errors or misconduct, cost overruns consume precious resources and undermine public confidence.”

After first indicating that there would be no ceremony at all, officials with the authority said late Thursday that the transit facility would partially open on March 3 and that there would be a ceremony when it becomes “fully operational” later this spring.

Ribbon cutting or not, the hub, which includes a commuter rail station, retail shops and connections to several subway lines, appears destined to take its place among the city’s most talked-about landmarks.

Intended to serve partly as a monument to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the hub was designed by Spanish-born architect Santiago Calatrava to convey the feeling of a bird released into the air, with steel wings poised for takeoff. Some critics have compared it to a dinosaur skeleton or an armadillo.

Adjacent skyscrapers can be seen through the bird’s curved white ribs, which enclose a vaulted, cathedral-like space.

“It is a monument to life, it is a monument of faith in this city and a monument dedicated to the people,” Calatrava said during a recent tour.

The station is replacing one that served PATH trains to and from New Jersey and that was destroyed along with the twin towers in 2001. Though some parts of the hub are still under construction, PATH trains will ultimately be connected to 11 New York City subway lines, as well as ferries. Shops and restaurants scheduled to open this summer will give tourists and commuters a reason to linger.