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Engineers to unplug Hudson tunnels to speed WTC subway repair


MAJOR SUBWAY tunnels running from New Jersey into the World Trade Center, sealed off as a precaution against flooding after September 11, are set to be unplugged in a bid to speed up repairs to the line, NCE has learned.

Concrete plugs were installed in the PATH line tunnels after the terrorist attack on the twin towers, amid fears that damage to the slurry wall protecting the World Trade Center (WTC) from the Hudson river would let water to leak into the subway network.

The PATH line has two tunnels running from New Jersey below the Hudson river to Manhattan.

They meet at a major station beneath the World Trade Center which was destroyed in the attack.

However, according to Bovis Lend Lease LMB senior vice president Paul Ashlin, repairs to the railway are now expected to be accelerated by moving the tunnel seals to the Manhattan side of the river. This will enable contractors to gain early access to the track to repair damage from water ingress .

'The big issue is whether the PATH train station underneath the WTC plaza can be re-established before we finish cleaning up the site, ' he said. 'While huge numbers of workers are cut off from New York there is concern that businesses will relocate in New Jersey.'

Ashlin, who is officer in charge on the site for Bovis, told NCE that he expected the debris clearing operation to reach ground level by the end of the year. Removal of rubble compacted in the basement levels of the WTC would then take about nine months, he added.

Ashlin confirmed that the four construction managers on the site - Bovis, Amec, Turner and Tully were likely to be reduced to 'two or possibly one' in the next three weeks. Bovis and Amec are both well placed to be retained, he said.

Formal contracts with the City of New York still remained unsigned due to difficulties with insurance and indemnification, he added. Ashlin predicted that it may take an Act of US Congress to resolve it.

The next challenge will be to work in New York's freezing winter temperatures. Consultant Birdair has proposed a huge tented structure to keep out the cold.

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