Return Home

Stage 2 for Ground Zero


by Greg Gittrich   May 30, 2002 

So much lies ahead.

This morning, the 16-acre plot the nation has come to know as Ground Zero will formally close with the ringing of a solitary bell and a mournful procession out of the cavernous pit. Nearly nine months after a pair of hijacked jets brought a storm of fire and steel to lower Manhattan, the din of heavy excavation machines will cease. And a quiet will descend  if only for a day. By tomorrow's sunrise, laborers, machine operators, ironworkers, carpenters, teamsters, cops and firefighters will return.

Most will no longer work around the clock, but in two 10-hour shifts. They will comb through the last piles of debris in search of human remains. They also must haul away about 25,000 tons of rubble and finish securing the retaining wall that prevents the Hudson River from rushing

City officials acknowledge weeks will pass before Ground Zero will be called clean, and say that work could go well into July. Only then will progress be measured strictly by rebuilding deadlines, rather than bodies found and debris removed. "The final ceremony is a very important milestone for the recovery effort at Ground Zero," Gov. Pataki said yesterday. "At the same time, we are going to continue to move forward in a sensible way to make sure that lower Manhattan comes back better than it was on Sept. 10."

Viewing Wall Planned

When the cleanup ends, control of the site will revert from the city to the Port Authority, which owns the land. Soon after, a steel mesh viewing wall will be built around the perimeter of the parcel, allowing the public to watch as the rebuilding moves ahead. The list of major projects already underway is staggering, but also only a beginning.

As redevelopment honchos rush to meet a self-imposed December deadline to determine what could rise above ground, crews are rebuilding the underground.  Workers already have excavated the collapsed stretch of the 1 and 9 subway lines and installed new steel and concrete. The $1million-a-day project began in March and is on track to be completed by late October. Such a job would normally take three to four years.

On the western edge of The Pit, hardhats are ripping out the short-circuited guts of the PATH system, which flooded after the twin towers collapsed.

Sixty-five thousand commuters rode to the World Trade Center station on the PATH trains each workday before Sept. 11. Service is scheduled to resume in 2004  but at a bare-bones station. The temporary depot will sit at the bottom of The Pit and will be covered by a shed. A permanent hub linking the PATH trains to 14 subway lines is expected to open within five years. The tab is expected to be about $2 billion.

Above ground, the damaged Winter Garden atrium is scheduled to reopen this year  on Sept. 11. And to the north of the main 16-acre parcel, earthmoving machines like those that cleared paths through the WTC wreckage are busy preparing the site of a new 7 World Trade Center.

An architect hired by WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein envisions the new tower as a light-emanating shaft with a concrete core. The lower floors will be used as a Con Ed substation.

Con Ed lost 10 transformer vaults when the original 7 WTC collapsed. It needs the new substation online by the summer of 2003 to avoid power shortages.

The foundation work for 7WTC will begin in a few weeks. The office< building could be completed as early as October 2005  likely years before towers rise on the main parcel.

The agencies overseeing redevelopment, the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. , last week hired the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle to help create a land use plan for the site.

Up to six plans will be revealed in July and narrowed to three in September. A final plan will be selected in December.

The plan will set aside land for a memorial. But the actual memorial design will be decided through a public process that will be detailed in July.

"There will be a transition from recovery to construction," said Thomas Wright, executive vice president of the Regional Plan Association. "But for the casual observer, there is going to be continuous activity."

Return Home