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The WTC East-West Connector that will join Battery Park & Fulton St.

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BY Douglas Feiden



Sunday, February 15th 2009, 4:00 AM


A majestic subterranean passageway that will revolutionize the way thousands of New Yorkers commute to work is quietly taking shape 60 feet below Ground Zero.


The little-known "East-West Connector" - part work of art, part pedestrian shortcut - will transverse the World Trade Center site to create a quarter-mile link between the Fulton St. subways and the World Financial Center.


Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward pointed out the half-completed corridor as he led the Daily News on a first-ever tour beneath the sacred site where nearly 3,000 perished on Sept. 11, 2001.


Noting the beehive of activity - progress on the Sept. 11th Memorial and the rise of the Freedom Tower to 107 feet above street level - Ward insists it's time to retire a phrase, forged in blood, from the vocabulary:


"The time has come to shed the term Ground Zero," he said. "Ground Zero evokes the attacks and other bombings. What you're looking at now is the rebirth, reconstruction and re-creation of downtown."


Ward says the Santiago Calatrava-designed tunnel will stitch together downtown, easing access to subways, PATH trains and future office towers.


Work on the East-West Connector began with little public notice in June and 800 tons of steel and 1,000 cubic yards of concrete have to date been installed.


Despite years of budget-busting delays, blown timetables and inter-agency squabbling that have plagued the Trade Center, the authority is confident pedestrians will be able to walk the entire length of the corridor in late 2013 or early 2014.


Daily pedestrian volume - including straphangers who can criss-cross underground from subways as far east as William St. - will be about 100,000, officials estimate.


The connector extends west from Calatrava's grandiose $3.2 billion Transportation Hub and will be framed by 100 sculpted steel arches created in Luxembourg and Spain that weigh about 25 tons apiece.


Running under a newly rebuilt Fulton St., which is being extended across the 16-acre site, the corridor crosses below West St. and ends in the Winter Garden, linking to Battery Park City and its ferry terminal.


A 275-foot stretch on the north side of the 1,300-foot passageway will house 50,000 square feet of retail shops along the concourse and a mezzanine level, from which a balcony will look down on the connector.


The south side will be a stone facade, behind which lies the 9/11 Memorial, the heart and soul of the site.

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