The long-awaited memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks will be ready by the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, but not its underground museum, city officials said Thursday.
New York state Governor David Paterson said the decision-making process in the rebuilding of Ground Zero had been reformed to promote cooperation between the 19 state agencies and dozens of architects and companies taking part in the development.
"I am proud to say that we have resolved the 15 fundamental issues that have stalled this project," Paterson told a press conference.
Close to the site of the destroyed twin towers, a 541-meter (1776-foot) "Freedom Tower" skyscraper is due to go up by 2013. Foundation work began last month. Initially, it was expected to be completed by 2008 or 2009.
Foundation excavations for three other surrounding high-rises, by architects Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Fumihiko
Maki, have also begun.
The National September 11 Memorial will be ready by September 11, 2011, Paterson said.
The memorial will consist of two huge, sunken pools covering the footprints of the Twin Towers, into which the country's
largest manmade waterfalls will cascade. Their edges will be inscribed with the names of the 2,980 victims of the attacks.
The pools will be set in a 3.25-hectare (eight-acre) Memorial Plaza with more than 300 trees.
The complex's underground Memorial Museum, however, will not be completed by September 11, 2011, although it will be far enough along to take some visitors, Paterson told reporters.
The subway and bus terminals beneath Ground Zero will be up and running in 2014, one year behind schedule, he added.
"Today, we have a roadmap for transforming 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of Ground Zero back into a robust area ready for business, transportation and tourism," the governor said.
Paterson did not mention the estimated final cost of the mega-development, but experts say the original, 15-billion-dollar price tag has gone up by 20 percent.