Ground Zero Not Rising, But Construction Costs Are

Taxpayers have to fork over $20 million more

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Will it ever be finished?

    Taxpayers will be asked to fork over another $20 million for the World Trade Center site as the bitter battle between the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein rages on.

    The agency's board voted yesterday to pay more than a dozen different consultants to develop new blueprints for Ground Zero that would nix two of Silverstein's towers.

    Gov. David Paterson called for the redesign, known as "Plan B," months ago as a means to ensure that public projects on the site would still go up as planned even if Silverstein backs out or is kicked from the job, reports the Daily News.

    The ongoing arguments between the developer and the Port Authority over who should pay for what gets built and when it goes up are now being assessed by an independent review board that is expected to make recommendations later this year, the News says.

    "We are reassessing what we would need to do should Mr. Silverstein's projects not go forward," PA Executive Director Chris Ward told the paper.

    Meanwhile, the fate of the PATH Transportation Hub, the expensive massive terminal that has been the subject of much debate and would be erected between Silverstein's Tower 2 and Tower 3, remains up in the air, according to the News.

    Services critical for the hub's operations, such as power, fuel tanks and air flow systems, are supposed to be placed in the lower floors of the 71- and 79-story skyscrapers, but if those buildings are cut out of the equation, there's no place to put them. Builders would have to figure out another place for the infrastructure, which would, of course, create more delays, escalate costs and possibly send the whole project back to square one after eight years of trying to get it off the ground.

    The $20 million "Plan B" is intended to avoid sending the project back nearly a decade by designing cost-effective alternatives. It's not clear, however, exactly how much it would cost to redesign Hub supports and move utilities to other locations.

    "I wouldn't want to characterize how much it will cost, but obviously ,there will be costs to it," Ward told the News.

    Silverstein representatives declined the News' requests for comment.