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    P.A. expects to begin building 9/11 memorial this year   

Contributed by Ron Marsico Wednesday, April 11, 2007
PATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR Steel girders to form the base of the 9/11 memorial should start rising by year's end from the depths of Ground Zero, officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said yesterday. About 2,000 cubic yards of concrete already has been poured for the foundation, including shear walls for support and footings, agency officials said. About 50 construction workers have been dedicated to the project, slated for completion in 2009. A memorial museum is expected to open the following year.

"In April of last year, we were still arguing about who would build it, how we would pay for it," said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority. "In one year, that's a pretty dramatic turn." Last year, officials announced they were capping the costs for the memorial at $510 million, with another $178 million for infrastructure improvements. The Port Authority agreed to contribute up to $195 million toward those costs. Private fundraising also has been ongoing.

Coscia's comments are part of an ongoing effort by the bistate agency to provide updates about Ground Zero, now that visible progress has been made on the long- stalled redevelopment of the former World Trade Center site. The Port Authority also is in charge of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, the site's signature structure, and the permanent PATH rail hub that will provide connections to subways and ferries in Lower Manhattan. Last year, after protracted delays and acrimony, the Port Authority and the site's lease-holder, Larry Silverstein, renegotiated redevelopment plans to give the agency control of the Freedom Tower and Silverstein rights to three other skyscrapers.

Subse quently, the Port Authority also took control of the 9/11 memorial, which will pay homage to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Though scaled back to contain costs, architect Michael Arad's design, "Reflecting Absence," still calls for two reflecting pools with waterfalls to symbolize the voids where the Twin Towers once stood. Controversy continues to surround the official decision to arrange the names of victims on the memorial randomly.

Ron Marsico may be reached at rmarsico@starledger.com or (973) 392-7860.

© 2007 The Jersey Journal

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