Twelve years in the making, there will be no official ceremony to mark the 3 pm opening to rail commuters of the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub next to the site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the al-Qaeda hijackings.
The centre connects the PATH commuter rail to New Jersey with New York subway lines, provides indoor pedestrian access to the Trade Centre towers and will also house an enormous shopping and restaurant plaza.
The building, designed by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava and called Oculus, is a giant oval made up of steel ribs and glass laid out in elliptical shape, reaching for the sky like wings of a bird.
The space measures 350 feet (107 meters) long by 115 feet (35 meters) at its widest point, according to Calatrava's website.
Thursday is only a partial opening and the shops are slated to open in August. In the 12 years since the project was unveiled, it has been heavily criticised -- for its appearance but also for spiralling so drastically off budget and closing seven years behind schedule. Initially budgeted at USD 2 billion, it has spiralled to USD 3.85 billion according to a spokesperson in Calatrava's office, which would make it the most expensive station in the world.
In contrast, the temporary station which was built straight after the September 11, 2001 attacks cost just USD 323 million. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey admitted in a report published in 2008 that the original cost estimate was "too low to begin with" but stressed the advantages it would afford the city.
It said that when completed, the transit hub will serve 250,000 people and more than 200,000 commuters each day, making it the third-largest transportation centre in the city.