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Secret report: Ground Zero Freedom Tower construction lags, slated for 2018 finish
NY Daily News
BY DOUGLAS FEIDEN
August 4th 2009
A secret report predicts the Freedom Tower - billed as America's defiant answer to terrorism - won't be finished until 17 years after the 9/11 attacks.
A 2018 opening for the iconic, 1,776-foot building would come more than four years after the opening date the Port Authority trumpeted just 10 months ago, the government report found.
The July 14 "confidential draft...risk analysis" by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (LMCCC) found that every blockbuster project at Ground Zero has fallen years behind time lines the PA unveiled in October.
The report says the grandiose transportation hub may not be ready until 2018, while the Sept. 11 Memorial, the site's emotional centerpiece, could be two years behind its 2011 deadline.
The report contradicts the "aggressive yet realistic schedules" PA boss Chris Ward gave Gov. Paterson.
Virtually every one of those dates has turned out to be unrealistic, said the LMCCC, which reports to Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg.
"The covenant with the people of lower Manhattan has been broken," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who reviewed the report at the request of the Daily News. "Ground Zero has been left to look like an unfinished parking lot, and that's an international scandal of epic proportions."
The PA strongly defended its work.
"The dates are wrong," chief spokesman Stephen Sigmund said. "Our comprehensive analysis, completed every month, shows we are on schedule to meet the completion dates we released last October."
The LMCCC refused to discuss details, saying its work was a "preliminary draft...for discussion purposes only" and that its dates "should not be considered valid until the ongoing review process is completed."
The revelations came as Paterson slapped an ultimatum on developer Larry Silverstein yesterday, saying the PA was preparing to redevelop the 16-acre site without him if necessary.
The LMCCC didn't address the budget-busting impact of blown deadlines on a project that's billions in the hole. But the contrast between LMCCC and other versions of Ground Zero reality is stark:
>> FREEDOM TOWER: The PA insists the 102-story, $3.1 billion Freedom Tower will be finished by December 2013. The LMCCC says there's an 80% probability the signature tower will open by January 2018 - and a 20% chance it will debut even later. There's a 50-50 chance it could open in November 2016.
>> THE MEMORIAL: Sept. 11 Memorial President Joe Daniels is confident the memorial will open permanently, with operating waterfalls, by Sept. 11, 2011. The PA promised a partial opening by then.
The LMCCC said the twin reflecting pools may not be operational in time for the 10th anniversary in 2011 - or even 2012.
It also predicted an 80% chance the plaza won't be finished until May 2013 and warned that the opening could be delayed as late as January 2014.
>> TRANSPORTATION HUB: The PA has repeatedly promised a June 2014 opening of the sprawling PATH terminal. The LMCCC says most likely it won't be finished until September 2018, more than four years later.
© 2009 Daily News, L.P. All rights reserved