"We just got the new frames in for the walls, so we'll replace them soon, too," said Mark Pagliettini, program manager for the PATH downtown restoration program. Pagliettini oversees the refurbishing of the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey City, which is set to resume operation on midnight, June 29.
The Exchange Place PATH station was closed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which destroyed the WTC PATH station. Pagliettini said Exchange Place received a great deal of water damage as a result of the attacks and work has been on going since then to restore service.
According to PATH spokesman Steve Coleman, the first train will move through the newly opened station at midnight.
"Earlier in the day, we will have a grand opening ceremony," Coleman added. As of Wednesday, the time of the ceremony had not been set.
Before 9/11, the PATH trains passed through the Exchange Place location on the way to lower Manhattan and Journal Square and Newark.
"At the World Trade Center terminal, we were able to turn trains around and send them back to either Newark or Hoboken," Coleman explained.
With the loss of the lower Manhattan station, turning the PATH trains around became nearly impossible. "Without a place to turn the trains around, we would have to back the trains out on the same tracks they came in on," said Pagliettini.
To facilitate the easier redeployment of PATH trains, a pre-existing, 400-foot long dead-end tunnel was raised to fit other main tunnels which were on a grade. This created what Pagliettini called "cross tunnel section" linking the previously dead end tunnel to two of the main tunnels, allowing trains to turn around instead of having to back out.
Coleman said the temporary PATH station for lower Manhattan will open in November of this year in the same location as the old. The previous station was located beneath the World Trade Center.
Among the improvements made at Exchange Place will be the expanded platforms. Coleman said the newly constructed platforms will be able to handle up to 10 cars per train. At present, Coleman said, there are eight cars per PATH train.
"In the eastbound tunnel of the pre-9/11 station, there was only room on the platform for a seven-car train," said Pagliettini. "People in the last car had to walk forward to exit the train when it pulled in."
Along with the new passenger platforms, Pagliettini noted a number of modifications at the Exchange Place terminal.
"Everything except the iron bulwark of the tunnels is new," stated Pagliettini. "New tracks have been laid down, along with wiring, signal systems and cement arch supports for the connected tunnels."
The operations of the Exchange Place terminal will now be controlled by a new microprocessor system, which will control the signal system for the reopened terminal and will eventually operate the WTC station when it comes on line.
James Reilly, the chief supervisor of the signal construction division for PATH, said that the microprocessor took a much smaller space than the relay system, which operates the rest of the PATH system. The relay system controls all facets of train motion in the PATH system. According to Reilly, the 2,200 wire system is substantially smaller and more streamlined than the relay system, which makes repairs easier.
"If a board goes down and affects the system, you replace the board," said Reilly. "Replacing a circuitboard takes 15 seconds. Then you can examine the board and fix what went wrong."
With the relay system, PATH workers would have to on the relays at their different locations at different points in the PATH system.
"If we used the relay system, we'd need a much bigger room than we have the microprocessor in," said Reilly, adding the Exchange Place station would probably not be open for the end of this month.
Most commuters waiting at the ferry station near Exchange Place were glad the PATH station was returning.
Rahul Talwar, 28, recently moved to the Exchange Place area to make his commute to work in lower Manhattan easier.
"I was living near Journal Square, so I had to take the PATH to the ferry," said Talwar. "Now I can just walk onto the PATH."
William Morton, another commuter to New York City and a downtown Jersey City resident, said he had used the Exchange Place station in the past and would when it opens.
"It's just the way I got used to going across the river," Morton said.
For information on PATH train schedules, call (800) 234-7284.