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NEW YORK CITY-Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were among the political heavyweights on hand yesterday to celebrate an additional $4.55 billion in federal funding for transportation infrastructure in Lower Manhattan.

Held at Ground Zero, the was soft on details about the proposed transit hub to be built at the World Trade Center site. The planned facility, as reported on GlobeSt.com yesterday, is expected to link the New York City Subway to the ferry system and the New Jersey PATH trains. In addition, a pedestrian walkway will connect the Broadway/Nassau Street subway station to the World Financial Center. Pataki said the cash infusion would “not just recreate what was here on the morning of Sept. 11, but put in place a 21st Century transportation infrastructure for the people who live, work and will come to Lower Manhattan.”

Bloomberg said the funding, committed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US Dept. of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, should quell any misgivings about Washington’s support for Lower Manhattan. “All the times people have questioned Congress’ resolve and the President’s resolve…those doubts should certainly go away,” he said. “For the whole country New York is really a symbol. We will not let the terrorists win.”

“If you build it and they can get here, they will come,” Clinton stated, noting that part of the reason the transportation package is so generous is that “we didn’t spend all the money for the cleanup.” Following Sept. 11, FEMA pledged $9 billion for cleaning up the Ground Zero and rebuilding Lower Manhattan, $1.8 billion of which was earmarked for transportation projects. “The cleanup was done ahead of schedule and under budget. We said we want that money for transportation upgrades and we got it.”

Touching on some of the controversy the redevelopment process has been generating of late, Clinton added, “Nothing we are doing today in any way undermines the memorial. A memorial to those people who lost their lives on this hallowed ground is our number-one priority.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses disaster-related losses and damages, rather than financing improvements. The agency relaxed its guidelines to allow for the reallocation of the funding, which is part of the $21-billion aid package passed by Congress and President Bush.

Bruce Mosler, president of US operations for Cushman & Wakefield, says the move is a great first step. “We haven’t invested in any form of transportation Downtown in 50 years,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s crucial to connect Midtown and parts of the metro region because anything we can do to improve transportation increases our ability to lure business back.”

Mosler notes, however, “the timetable, which no one is commenting on, is also an essential ingredient. Hurdle one has been accomplished. Hurdle two is to establish a timeframe that is meaningful to businesses making decisions today.”

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