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Officials Offer Update On Progress At World Trade Center Site

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TWC News: Officials Offer Update On Progress At World Trade Center Site
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Elected officials and local leaders gathered Tuesday at the World Trade Center site saying the redevelopment projects are well underway, nearly nine years after the terrorist attacks.

Governor David Paterson says that despite numerous delays and conflicting opinions, the construction is finally on its way to being a great success. He says 16 trees out of the 400 planned have been planted at the site, symbolic of growth and life.

According to the governor, as One World Trade Center tower is being built, the memorial pools and plaza are set to open a year from now, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver added the business partnerships and leaders are all working together now and he is optimistic completion deadlines will be successfully met and predicted the area will be fully revived and emerge bigger and better than ever.

Port Authority executives and developer Larry Silverstein spoke passionately about the projects, as did Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had taken the initiative last year by bringing all sides back together when it appeared the project was stalled.

"All you simply have to do is look outside and see what is happening," said Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward. "One World Trade Center is rising. Larry Silverstein's Tower 4 is rising. Most importantly, the sacred heart of the site, the Memorial Plaza, is taking shape. We have, in the two-and-a-half years, brought this site to a point were very few thought we would."

"Freedom is fragile and we constantly have to fight for it. And the progress we've made here is helping us honor that obligation to our nation and to the free world," said Bloomberg.

One World Trade Center -- also known as the Freedom Tower -- will boast 105 floors when completed. To date, builders have completed 36 stories.

However, New Yorkers who live and work near the site say they have noticed very little progress.

"It's a national disgrace," said one local resident. "It really is. And the politics that went into that, again, makes us fools around the world."

However, Bloomberg says that residency in the area below Chambers Street has doubled since 2001, representing a major vote of confidence in the area and certainly New York City.

The mayor was also asked Tuesday whether he thought the fight over the proposed Islamic center and mosque nearby could have been avoided if the redevelopment at the site had been further just a few months ago. He said he doesn't see a connection between the two.

"This is a political thing that all came up in two months and is going to go away on November 4th," said the mayor.

After the update, two steel columns taken from the wreckage after the September 11th terrorist attacks were installed at the entrance to the September 11th Memorial and Museum.

Salvaged from the rubble after the attacks, each column measures 70 feet and weighs 50 tons. They made up the facade at the North Tower's entrance.

Meanwhile, the White House says President Barack Obama will mark the anniversary of the attacks at the Pentagon on Saturday.

Like last year, Obama will attend a ceremony to remember those who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building on September 11th.

Vice President Joe Biden will come to New York for the anniversary.

First Lady Michelle Obama will join former first lady Laura Bush in Pennsylvania for ceremonies marking the crash of United Flight 93.

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