The N and R subway lines, which run along the east side of the WTC, are back in service. However, it could take years to rebuild an 800-ft-long stretch of the 1 and 9 IRT subway tunnel, which lies several feet below Ground Zero. Depending on the final reconstruction plan for the site above, rebuilding could include a new alignment of the tracks and station. Restoring service on the flooded PATH tubes to New Jersey largely depends on rebuilding the collapsed station in the middle of the basement of the WTC.

While most of the discussion about how to rebuild lower Manhattan focuses on the structures above ground, the future of the below-ground transit lines is just as crucial to the financial district’s recovery. At the same time, if much of the underground structures are rebuilt with improved design features in mind, that could lead to more modern telephone lines, state-of-the-art power stations, and better road access.

Both the land on which the WTC stood and the rail lines beneath it fall under the control of the state or bi-state agencies, so any plans must have the Governor’s approval; additionally the federal government will probably distribute its aid through the state, not the city.