Farther west, work is progressing on Route 9A/West Street, essentially the driveway into the WTC. The strip may well be “the most complicated mile of road in the country,” says Kenneth Stigner, a vice president of Stantec Consulting, the project's designer for the New York State Dept. of Transportation (NYSDOT).

The road, between the WTC and Battery Park City, is a main north-south artery underlain by utilities.

In 1995, NYSDOT launched a project to transform a 5.4-mile, 16-ft-wide stretch into a tree-lined boulevard that would include a bike path, walkway and a waterfront park. Vollmer Associates, now part of Stantec, provided the design.

The highway was damaged on 9/11, when it was virtually complete. Crews from Stantec, under a $5-million emergency reconstruction contract with NYSDOT. In a separate contract with the city, Skanksa monitored the west side of the WTC's cutoff wall, called the bathtub and surveyed the damaged Cortlandt Street station. The firm also collected data on the buried utilities that had to be relocated or replaced.

After 9/11, the redesign of West Street had to accommodate the WTC reconstruction. Stantec shifted the alignment to the west, away from the WTC site, and raised the elevation 7 ft, says Karl Rubenacker, Stantec's senior principal.

A joint venture of Tully Construction and E.E. Cruz has completed most of the road reconstruction, under a $200-million contract. But a section directly abutting the WTC must wait until the $16-billion development is complete, because it serves as a crucial access point for material deliveries to the 16-acre development.

“We can't finish it until they're out of there,” says Joe Brown, NYSDOT's project director.

Footbridges and Access

Among its many tasks, the DOT builds temporary footbridges and site access to make room for construction. It must relocate and provide scores of utility lines, provide temporary access for the 9/11 anniversary ceremonies, and ensure the final streetscape fits the context of the new WTC.

Transportation improvements in Lower Manhattan underpin a long-term plan to transform the area into a livable community, with a residential population, services, cultural facilities and schools. The scheme was hatched more than four decades ago when the excavated soil for the WTC complex created the 23-acre Battery Park.

The grand plan for Lower Manhattan suffered a stinging setback on 9/11. But the neighborhood is coming back. The Alliance for Downtown New York says the population of the district, at 56,000, has more than doubled since 9/11.

Larry Silverstein, the developer investing $7 billion at the WTC site, says: “In every situation of distress, there are circumstances of opportunity. You have to find a way to bring the elements together.”

Silverstein and all the others involved in the rebuilding are combining all the elements to make Lower Manhattan living better than ever.