JUST FOR NOW Subways would connect to a new hub. (Photo courtesy of MTA)

Work could begin as soon as next year on segments of a $5-billion transportation plan outlined by New York Gov. George Pataki (R). In a Feb. 6 letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency head Joseph Allbaugh and Federal Transit Administration head Jennifer Dorn, Pataki reiterated the need to fund projects such as the Ground Zero hub, a series of ferry terminals and new decking on the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel for a park and residential area.

"The governor has included all the things that we wanted," says a Port Authority of New York & New Jersey official. A $2-billion transportation hub underneath Ground Zero could begin preliminary design this year.

The hub would include a new PATH terminal and connect to a $750-million transit complex that would house nine subway lines for the New York City Transit Authority. A temporary PATH station at Ground Zero is nearing completion but will not be heated or ventilated. The agency may do preliminary design on the new PATH terminal in-house, and hopes to start construction in 2005. But "we will need to know if we have a 50-story structure or higher" in terms of planned buildings at Ground Zero for foundation work, the official added.

Mysore Nagaraja, director of capital programs for NYCTA, says the agency's focus is on the transit complex and a new $400-million subway terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan. The transit center work will involve rehabilitating six stations, removing ramps and tunneling to the PATH terminal.

Nagaraja says the agency is looking at several alternative locations for the new South Ferry Terminal to avoid a conflict with the Parks Dept. "We're hoping to let design contracts in the next couple of months," he says. Construction could begin by early 2004 with a goal of completion in 2007. "We will use a combination of whatever methods to make it happen," he says.

Pataki's plan also calls for up to $2 billion to help plan rail links to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, reconfigure roads and bus facilities and upgrade Route 9A to include a promenade. Pataki stated in the letter that a timeline and cost estimates for those projects would be forthcoming. The plan also includes a $500-million estimate for site preparation work.

Four days after Pataki's outline, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) announced his ambitious scheme for Manhattan's West Side, which includes a $1.5-billion subway extension, ferry terminals, esplanade and a $1.2-billion professional football stadium.