Monday, June 30, 2008

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 36

For those hoping to see the 9/11 Memorial opened by the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, you're going to be in for a sad disappointment. Construction of the memorial, along with everything else at Ground Zero is continuing to fall behind schedule to the point where the schedules don't mean much at all.

The Port Authority is behind on getting the site turned over to Silverstein Properties for construction of 2, 3, and 4 WTC, while construction on the Freedom Tower continues to move at a snail's pace. The Deutsche Bank building and Fiterman Hall continue to stand despite the all too obvious need for their deconstruction for the site to move forward.

Indeed, the Port Authority ignored reports a year ago warning that the construction schedule was hopelessly falling behind.
Port Authority officials ignored private warnings a year ago that Ground Zero construction was far behind schedule - and that the Sept. 11 memorial would not be done in time for the terror attack's 10th anniversary.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. told the Port Authority's then-executive director, Anthony Shorris, and then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer that the PA's claims the work would be done on time were unrealistic, to say the least.

Memos obtained by the Daily News reveal that as early as last June, an engineering firm hired by the LMDC contradicted the authority's predictions in an in-depth review of the $16 billion Ground Zero reconstruction. The report was never made public.

In a December memo citing the report's findings, the LMDC warned Spitzer: "The original dates were never real and were driven and produced by PR people, not construction and engineering analysis."

The most shocking thing in the secret report was that construction of the WTC memorial was at least a year behind the Port Authority's claim that it would be done in time for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
Construction at the site has lacked focus and the Port Authority has lacked urgency, though that too can be traced to the three governors who have overseen the site - starting with George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, and now David Paterson.

All three have taken an approach that has demanded little of the Port Authority to fulfill its promise to rebuild Ground Zero and to make sure that the key features of the rebuilding are done.

Further all those delays have real costs at the end of the day. The delays are adding billions to the cost of reconstruction, which means that some of the features have to be redesigned and scaled back, costing even more in the process.

More will be forthcoming later today as a scathing report is scheduled to be issued.

To put it bluntly, the Port Authority, the governors, and Mayor Bloomberg have all dropped the ball on the construction at Ground Zero. So far, the only person who has come through in fulfilling his promise to rebuild is Larry Silverstein who built 7WTC.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the rebuilding will cost $3 billion more than prior estimates. Each delay causes a ripple effect of further delays and cost increases, for which someone will have to pick up the tab.

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