The World Trade Center West Concourse in Lower Manhattan formally opened to the public Thursday, providing a much-needed link for commuters that has been unavailable since the September 11th attacks. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
For nearly a decade, an open-air bridge at Vesey Street carried pedestrians over West Street and to and from the World Trade Center PATH train station.
"The overpass, it's a cattle car. It's terrible," said one commuter. "I'm not really worried about the cold, but more so just the crowding on the overpass. And the escalator's been broken since Sandy, so that's been a pain, too."
"The elevator's working, it's not working. The escalator's working, it's not working," said another. "So it's definitely been a little challenging for the last 12 years."
Now, the overpass is coming down, replaced by an underground path that hasn't existed since the September 11th attacks.
On Thursday, officials from the Port Authority finally opened the 600-foot passageway that links the World Financial Center to the PATH train and, eventually, to 11 nearby subway lines.
"Our staff envisioned a connection that would link the ferry services and the office development on the west to the World Trade Center site and to the PATH and subways on the east," said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority. "No longer would office workers, residents and visitors have to go up and down staircases to get from one mode of mass transit to another."
Besides the PATH, the corridor will connect commuters to the eight subway lines at the MTA's Fulton Center when it opens in 2014, and then, to the grand hall of World Trade Center Transportation Hub. That's set to open a year later.
Commuters NY1 spoke to said they're going to enjoy walking through the climate-controlled marble corridor, especially with the winter months coming up.
"When it's raining or snowing now in the winter, it's going to be very useful for me," said one commuter.
Port Authority officials said it's quite an upgrade that also takes commuters to Hudson River ferries.
"It's a restoration and, frankly, a vast improvement above the underground connections that existed here before 9/11," Foye said.
However, the transit complex hasn't come cheap, or on time. At nearly $4 billion, the hub is set to open years later than expected.