A change of course on PATH

By Albert Amateau

The Port Authority is dropping plans to build an additional entrance to the PATH station at Christopher and Hudson Sts., but is going ahead with an environmental study for an added entrance to the PATH station at W. Ninth St. and Sixth Ave., according to Village elected officials.

The two extra PATH entrances proposed nearly two years ago aroused angry opposition from residents, merchants and elected officials who said the $30 million project would imperil fragile historic buildings and disrupt business and traffic on narrow Village streets.

“It’s a big victory, but only half a victory,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. “All our concerns about the waste of money, the threat to the streetscape and to historic buildings and the economic and transportation disruption apply as much to Ninth St. as they do to Christopher St., and we will continue to oppose the entire project.”

The Port Authority’s decision to abandon plans for the Christopher St. entrance was revealed this week by Glick and City Councilmember Christine Quinn, who along with representatives of State Sen. Tom Duane and Representative Jerrold Nadler, met last week with Iris Weinshall, commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, the lead agency in the environmental impact statement for the project.

“We have nothing in writing, but the commissioner said the Port Authority has decided not to go forward with the expansion of the Christopher St. station entrance but will only look at the Ninth St. station expansion,” said Glick.

The Port Authority has said the new entrances were necessary to relieve crowding at the two stations in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center PATH station on Sept. 11, 2001. The P.A. also contends the additional entrances are needed for safe evacuation of the Village stations in emergencies.

But a new temporary PATH station at the World Trade Center site is scheduled to open on Nov. 23, making the Village stations less critical, opponents say.

Quinn suggested that the $15 million that would be spent for the additional entrance at Ninth St. and Sixth Ave. should go instead to improve the PATH station at 14th St. and Sixth Ave. five blocks away. The 14th St. PATH station, Quinn noted, has connections to the Sixth Ave. I.N.D. subway and a passage to the Seventh Ave. I.R.T. line.

Glick said elected officials wanted to know why city D.O.T. became the lead agency for an environmental impact study on a project for the Port Authority, a bi-state New York-New Jersey agency independent of the city.

Weinshall explained that city D.O.T. had inherited jurisdiction from an agency that no longer exists, according to Glick. Moreover, the Port Authority will pay for the environmental study and chose the consultant that will conduct it, while D.O.T. will supervise the public review procedure, Glick said.

Villagers who were active in the opposition to the expansion of the PATH stations met with Glick and Quinn on Monday to hear about the decision.

David Ryan, a resident of Gay St. near the proposed Ninth St. entrance, said, “We don’t want an environmental impact study to give credence to a project that already has three alternative answers — the 14th St. PATH station, the World Trade Center station that will open in November and the ferries that have been carrying thousands of former PATH commuters.”

Ellen Peterson Lewis, a Greenwich St. resident, also said that money should be better spent expanding the 14th St. PATH station and its connections with subways. She noted that PATH and MetroCards would soon be interchangeable. “I’m pleased that the Christopher St. expansion has been taken off the table but it makes just as little sense to expand the Ninth St. station,” Lewis said.

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