Governor Paterson today announced an audit of the schedules and budgets at the World Trade Center site, with his new Port Authority director Chris Ward due to report back by the end of June.
The review, announced two hours after the Port Authority acknowledged it is facing a two-month delay on the site for Tower 2, is already underway at the bi-state agency, as the Paterson administration seems eager to shed any blame for the unrealistic timetables set in the Pataki era.
From a letter from Mr. Paterson to Mr. Ward:
The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site must encompass clear and achievable timelines and budget goals that must be met at every step of the way. Furthermore, the stakeholders and the public must be kept up to date on progress in meeting the timetables and budgets as we move forward.
As we reported in a story last week, the agency is likely to find substantial delays at the memorial, the PATH hub, and possibly the Freedom Tower. Independent analyses have found it likely that the PATH hub and portions of the memorial will be delayed by years, according to people familiar with the findings.
The Freedom Tower could be facing delays of at least six months. Hundreds of millions in additional money could also be needed to fund the PATH hub, which officials seem unlikely to be able to cut to fit a budget of $2.5 billion.
Full text of the letter below:
GOVERNOR PATERSON CALLS ON PORT AUTHORITY TO ASSESS WORLD TRADE CENTER SITE RECONSTRUCTION TIMELINE AND BUDGET
Public Confidence in Process Must be Restored
Today, Governor David A. Paterson sent a letter to Chris Ward, the new Executive Director of the Port Authority, calling for a complete audit of the schedule and budget for rebuilding the World Trade Center site. Paterson called for Ward to deliver the assessment by June 30th.
The Governor’s letter to Ward follows:
Since taking my oath of office, I have made a commitment to be candid and upfront with the people of New York. If we are going to be true to this principle, it must start with projects like the World Trade Center rebuilding.
The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site is critical to New York City, the State and the nation. In the past two years the site has made progress – from a virtual complete stop to a burgeoning construction site. Yet despite the progress made so far, it has become clear that the overall project faces likely delays and cost overruns. In fact, recently the announcement came that the second consecutive deadline for the Port Authority to complete excavation work in the East Bathtub will be missed by a few weeks, with some schedule and cost impacts.
We must ensure public confidence in the ongoing reconstruction of this site and transparency throughout this process – in the rebuilding schedule, the budget and the overall management of the project. The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site must encompass clear and achievable timelines and budget goals that must be met at every step of the way. Furthermore, the stakeholders and the public must be kept up to date on progress in meeting the timetables and budgets as we move forward.
Accountability means demanding results and accepting responsibility and that is what we must do if we want to recapture public confidence. New Yorkers can accept challenges, but they need real information that reflects the reality on the ground
To this end, I am asking you – in your role as the new Executive Director of the Port Authority – to complete a comprehensive assessment to determine if the current schedules and cost estimates for reconstruction are reliable and achievable. If they are not, I would like an evaluation of what viable alternatives exist to get the project back on track or whether we need to alter our targets to meet the reality on the ground. Any new schedule must reflect an aggressive but realistic approach to completing these vitally important projects. This assessment should detail the current status, timeline and cost for each project on the site. I ask that you work with all of the various stakeholders to get their input as you establish a path forward, ensuring that what is developed reflects all of the assessments that have been generated to date.
I have every confidence in your ability and the ability of the Port Authority to deliver on this incredibly important rebuilding effort. Your full assessment, with a plan to accountably deliver on the promise of rebuilding Lower Manhattan, must be the next step to achieving that mandate.
I expect you to provide an update on the status of this effort to both Governor Corzine and me, the Port Authority Board, and to the public by June 30th.