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NEW YORK CITY-The Port Authority of New York and Jersey’s board voted Thursday to allocate $20 million toward developing an alternate plan that would allow World Trade Center construction to go on without Silverstein Properties Inc. if necessary. The board’s action was in response to Gov. David Paterson’s order last August that the Port and its consultants come up with such a plan.

According to public documents, the revised design for the WTC Hub is being devised “in light of the continued uncertainty with respect to the schedule for the development of Towers 2, 3 and 4,” the three Ground Zero towers planned by SPI. The plan would allow construction of the WTC’s public components to move forward while not impeding SPI’s ability to eventually commence work on its towers. Tower 4 is currently under way.

Biggest of the allocations is $6.5 million to Downtown Design Partnership, a joint venture of DMJM+Harris and STV, to modify “certain elements” of the WTC Hub’s transit hall and oculus. If implemented, these changes would not affect the “signature elements” of the Santiago Calatrava design for the WTC PATH terminal, according to board minutes. Other modifications would affect the streetscapes, the underground Vehicular Underground Center and the loading dock and power distribution facilities at One World Trade Center.

To help ensure that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens in time for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the PANYNJ board authorized a $140-million project for final design and construction of Ground Zero’s street and sidewalk finishes, trees, paving, bollards and streetscape furniture. It also entails additional design work on Liberty Park, a new park that will span the length of Liberty Street between Church and West streets. Thursday’s vote did not name a contractor or contractors for the project.

In a statement, PANYNJ executive director Chris Ward says, “One year ago, we gave the public a roadmap on how we would get the site’s public projects on track and asked them to hold us accountable. We take that responsibility very seriously and are continuing to take the necessary steps to ensure that our projects move forward.”

The board also awarded more than $340 million in contracts to replace the signals on the PATH system connecting Midtown and Downtown with New Jersey. Currently, the system, which last year transported nearly 75 million riders, uses “antiquated” mechanical train controls, according to a PANYNJ release. The computerized equipment that would replace these controls is part of a $3.3-billion modernization program for the PATH system.

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