World Trade Center transit hub to open, a New York phoenix rising

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WTC Transit Hub to Open Amid Sniping Over Costs

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The newly built World Trade Center Transportation Hub, designed to resemble a dove but tasked with the job of a phoenix, opens this week, nearly 15 years after the Sept. 11 attacks left Lower Manhattan in ashes.

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Oculus, the birdlike structure that is the hub's focal point, welcomes the public on Thursday, months ahead of the expected opening of connections to 11 New York City subway lines and the underground PATH trains that link New York to New Jersey.

See more of the construction in the gallery below:

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World Trade Center transit hub to open, a New York phoenix rising
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Commuters walk through the Oculus of the partially opened World Trade Center Transportation Hub after nearly 12 years of construction on March 7, 2016 in New York City. The grand structure was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava at a cost of $4 billion in public money, almost $2 billion over budget. The hub offers connections to the PATH train connecting New York City and New Jersey. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The first portion of Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub, known as the Oculus, open to the public in New York on March 3, 2016. The WTC Transportation Hub's concourse will conveniently connect visitors to 11 different subway lines, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system, Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, the World Trade Center Memorial Site, WTC Towers 1, 2, 3, and 4, the World Financial Center and the Winter Garden. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Pedestrians walk inside the Oculus Thursday, March 3, 2016, in New York. New Yorkers and tourists get their first look inside the cathedral-like hall that sits atop the new $4 billion train station at the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Pedestrians walk past the Oculus near World Trade Center Thursday, March 3, 2016, in New York. New Yorkers and tourists get their first look inside the cathedral-like hall that sits atop the new $4 billion train station at the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Sunlight hits the "ribs" of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in New York. Officials say the transit hub's cathedral-like pavilion will partially open to the public Thursday afternoon. Cost overruns have been blamed on the architect's demands and the logistical complexity of building it while the Sept. 11 memorial and office towers were also under construction. The transportation hub will connect Port Authority Trans-Hudson trains to New Jersey with 11 New York City subway lines and ferry service. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
TRANSPORTATION HUB, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/10/17: The World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in New York city. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
FILE - In this July 16, 2015 file photo, workers paint the ribs of the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's $3.9 billion transportation hub is set to open in the first week of March, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Laborers (C) use a lift as they work at the transportation hub of the One World Trade Center in New York on October 17, 2014. US spending on construction slowed in August 2014, with declines in both the private and public sectors, the Commerce Department reported. Total construction spending fell 0.8 percent from July to an annual rate of $961.0 billion, but year-over-year was up 5.0 percent. The July figure was revised sharply lower to $968.8 billion from the prior estimate of $981.0 billion. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
TRANSPORTATION HUB, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/10/17: The World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in New York city. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Workers use a lift during a night shift at the construction site of a transportation hub of the One World Trade Center in New York on October 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO /Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 photo, a construction worker puts final touches on the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York. The soaring, white transportation hub opening next week at the World Trade Center was designed to evoke a bird in flight, but it is hatching under a cloud. The head of the bi-state agency that controls the hub has blasted it as a symbol of excess with runaway costs approaching $4 billion. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In this Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 photo, construction workers put the final touches on the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York. The soaring, white transportation hub opening next week at the World Trade Center was designed to evoke a bird in flight, but it is hatching under a cloud. The head of the bi-state agency that controls the hub has blasted it as a symbol of excess with runaway costs approaching $4 billion. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In this Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 photo, construction workers put final touches on the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York. The soaring, white transportation hub opening next week at the World Trade Center was designed to evoke a bird in flight, but it is hatching under a cloud. The head of the bi-state agency that controls the hub has blasted it as a symbol of excess with runaway costs approaching $4 billion. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Workers push to finish the new World Trade Center Path train station, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, in New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The total cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding project will come in at the lower end of the $14.8 billion to $15.8 billion range projected four years ago, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official said. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Workers push to finish the new World Trade Center Path train station, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, in New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The total cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding project will come in at the lower end of the $14.8 billion to $15.8 billion range projected four years ago, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official said. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Architect Santiago Calatrava walks into the new World Trade Center PATH train station he designed in New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The total cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding project will come in at the lower end of the $14.8 billion to $15.8 billion range projected four years ago, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official said. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The World Trade Center site is shown on Friday, March 9, 2007 in New York. Construction began last spring on the Freedom Tower, the planned 1,776-foot skyscraper being built to replace the fallen twin towers. The tower is the tallest and most symbolic of five office buildings planned to replace the destroyed trade center complex. A Sept. 11 memorial, transit hub and performing arts center are also planned. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, left, explains the model of the transit hub linking ferries, commuter trains and 14 subway lines to the World Trade Center site he designed to New York Gov. George Pataki, second from left and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, during a news conference to unveil the plan, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Resembling Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's vision of a dove released into the air from a child's hands, Oculus has a practical purpose: To rebuild the PATH terminal that was destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

But it also symbolizes the rebirth of Lower Manhattan after the devastation of 9/11 and the dark days that followed.

With a final price tag of $4 billion, twice the estimate when it was unveiled in 2004, the soaring space has been described by some residents as an architectural wonder and by others as an eyesore.

The white steel and marble structure is dramatic to behold, with two metal-ribbed wings springing out from an elliptical shaped transit hall that is roughly the size of a soccer field.

Its soaring glass roof is meant to bring natural light to the 250,000 commuters expected to travel through the hub each day, even those on the PATH train platform 60 feet (18 meters) below the street.

In remembrance of the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, the project features a 330-foot (100-meter) retractable skylight that will be open on temperate days as well as annually on Sept. 11.

Cafes and stores are expected to fill its 75,000 square feet (6,967 square meters) of retail space, and draw many of the estimated 17 million tourists forecast to visit Lower Manhattan in 2019.

The project, destined to appear in iconic photos depicting the sights of New York City, has taken years longer than expected to complete, making it one of the most expensive and delayed train stations ever built.

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