The Oculus, the World Trade Center transportation hub what will house the replacement for a PATH terminal destroyed during the 9/11 attacks, opened yesterday after years of delays. The project, which will contain a shopping center and serve as a conduit to 11 subway lines, opened a decade after its target date. The cost for the project also piled up over the years, going from $2 billion to $4 billion.
According to Skanska, the contractor for the project, the winged structure, which was meant to look like a bird in flight, had a complicated building process. Only four companies in the world were able to make the steel that the structure required. This meant that the steel had to be imported from Italy. It would then arrive in Red Hook, Brooklyn after a very long journey. After that, the steel would be transported by trucks to the World Trade Center site, thereby marking the end of a 4,700-mile trip.
Skanska likened the construction of Oculus to completing a jigsaw puzzle that had 588 pieces with a combined weight of 11,500 tons. Ensuring the strength of the structure required precise placement of the pieces. The margin of error for placing the steel was 1/8 of an inch.
The current marble structure represents the project’s first phase. The transit hub is expected to handle 200,000 people a day. With about 800,000 feet in space, it gained the distinction of being the third biggest transportation hub in the city.