A number of setbacks have sidelined progress on the rebuilding effort at the World Trade Center site, but participants in Saturday's memorial service will probably be taken in by the scope of construction now taking place around them. NY1's Rebecca Spitz has the story.
Take the elevator to the 28th floor of One World Trade Center, and there is a spectacular sight -- progress.
"We've built 600,000-square-feet of office and memorial space below grade, but New Yorkers want to see their skyscrapers," says Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward. "So when people are driving down the West Side Highway, they now see the kind of progress that they've waited for."Ward says the steel in Tower 1 rises to 38 stories right now, and that workers are averaging about a floor a week. When finished, the tower will boast 105 floors.
Every day, about 2,000 people work at the site, including 850 in Tower 1 alone, according to Ward.
Work is happening all over the 16-acre site. Developer Larry Silverstein's Tower 4 is taking shape and Tower 3 will soon follow.
All this construction would not have been possible without a $1.5 billion deal between Silverstein Properties and the Port Authority that was approved at the end of August. After years of false starts and animosity, everyone is finally playing together.
"We needed to form a partnership with Larry Silverstein to get that east side of Greenwich Street going under construction, so that no part of Downtown would be left, that it would all rise together," says Ward.While the September 11th Memorial and Museum is not scheduled to be finished until 2012, work is happening on the memorial itself. It is designed to have the largest manmade waterfalls in the country, flowing into two voids where the towers once stood.
"Just think about the conversation that New Yorkers will be able to have when they come here," says Ward. "They'll be able to touch the name of a loved one who was lost, or even if you didn't lose somebody that day, there'll be that sense of contemplation underneath a canopy of trees."
Sixteen of those trees are already in the ground and ultimately there will be nearly 400.
"There've been deadlines, there've been budgets. We now have a schedule, we have a deal with Larry Silverstein and the most important part, the sacred heart of the whole site which is the memorial, will be built by 2011," says Ward.
The memorial is planned to be ready in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.