Crews are installing steel and pouring concrete to form its framework
Of the World Trade Center (WTC) Transportation Hub's 800,000 total square feet, it is a mere fraction. Yet the corridor that will link the hub's main hall with Battery Park City is a vital piece of the Lower Manhattan revitalization program.
The "east-west connector," as Port Authority planners call it, is the main westward spoke that will emanate from the central hub. Stretching approximately one-quarter of a mile long, the connector is comprised of three distinct elements.
The first and main section is an extension of architect Santiago Calatrava's grand hall, where the white concrete ribs of his iconic oculus visually unify it with the connector. In renderings, those white ribs create a luminous archway reflected along a high-polish floor. This forms the concourse level, with retail lining the north side, and extends one floor up to a mezzanine level, where a balcony will overlook the connector.
On the south side, a solid opaque wall will separate the commercial space of the connector from the adjacent National 9/11 Memorial. From within the ADA-accessible concourse, pedestrians also will have direct access into the base of the Freedom Tower, as well as into the half-million square feet of retail space planned for the main hall's mezzanine and the bases of Towers Two, Three and Four.
The east-west connector's concourse section is located entirely within the World Trade Center's bathtub. At its western edge, Port Authority crews are opening a section of the slurry wall to build the connector's second component: a tunnel below West Street (Route 9A). This will be the transitional space from Calatrava's design to the architecture of the World Financial Center's (WFC) Winter Garden.
There, the Port Authority is collaborating with WFC owner Brookfield Properties and original Winter Garden architect Cesar Pelli to create a seamless exchange. Part of that design will comprise the connector's third element, a new entry structure on the Winter Garden's east side to house escalators and elevators linked to the concourse.
With so much construction activity in the area, Port Authority engineers are coordinating with state Department of Transportation crews for the Promenade South Segment 2 project and the other entities involved with WTC redevelopment.
Construction of the east-west connector is going strong, with about 30 percent of the WTC section already complete. Crews are installing steel and pouring concrete to form its framework, and they recently relocated West Street's traffic lanes to accommodate construction down to 50 feet below grade.
Heavy construction on the connector will likely conclude in 2009, when crews will begin to tie it together with the hub's main hall. During this work, WTC PATH access will be maintained via the temporary north station entrance at Vesey Street and West Broadway.
Once the entire structure is fully built out, an estimated quarter-million people will traverse the hub for the first time using underground concourses spanning the Fulton Street Transit Hub, WTC Transportation Hub, and World Financial Center.
The result will be pedestrian-only, sub-grade access across nearly one mile of Lower Manhattan -- from the 2/3 Fulton Street subway station at William Street to the new WFC Ferry Terminal on the Hudson River.
More information about WTC rebuilding progress including the latest photographs can be found at www.pathrestoration.com.