The latest bad news at ground zero is that costs continue to mount for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. A report that found costs rose 85 percent since the project began in 2006, to $14.8 billion, placed a great deal of responsibility for these cost overruns on prior leadership at the Port.
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg defended the Port’s leadership and the importance of rebuilding, according to DNAinfo.
“I don’t know where those numbers come from,” Bloomberg said, adding that the costs were not significantly higher than what had originally been envisioned.
“I’m sure there are some things that they could have done differently, in retrospect. [It’s] easy to play Monday morning quarterback.”
Regardless of the cost, the mayor insisted that finishing the memorial in time for the anniversary was critical.
“Can you imagine? If America couldn’t have come up with a memorial by the 10th anniversary, I would suggest that the press would have had a field day,” he said. “It would have been an embarrassment around the world.
“New York had to deliver. The Port Authority had to deliver. The donors had to deliver.”
The mayor also reminded reporters of the complexity that helped create these costs in the first place.
“The bottom line is the whole site is perhaps the most complex construction project in the history of the world — legally, politically, engineering-wise,” he said. “Keep in mind there’s a railroad that runs through it. Two railroads. And they never stopped. Nobody else could do that. Every building is dependent on every other one. Who could build all these things at the same time? Only the people we had.”
Meanwhile, Capital New York‘s Dana Rubinstein (our former colleague) has the best analysis of all the audit coverage. She points out that Governor Chris Christie, who has been slamming the Port, and particularly its old maestro Chris Ward, was nowhere when the report was announced, and she has a theory why:
With New Jersey governor Chris Christie under scrutiny for what appear to be dozens of patronage appointments to the Port Authority, his and Governor Cuomo’s long-anticipated audit of the agency was released quietly on Tuesday at 4:30 pm, following a briefing with reporters a half hour earlier.
At 5:34 p.m., the governors released a joint statement saying, “This record of historic failure must be reversed.”
(“I think this patronage thing hamstrung them,” said one lobbyist who was involved with the World Trade Center redevelopment, referring to the muted announcement.)
While the politicians squabble, the towers keep rising, as The Journal goes inside Tower 4. The overruns are unfortunate, surely, but also to be expected. Anyone who pretends otherwise is fooling themselves. Someday, someday soon, even, New Yorkers will look up at their new downtown skyline and they will have forgotten all this.