Bloomberg News

Bloomberg Says On-Time 9/11 Memorial Avoided ‘Embarrassment’

February 09, 2012

(Updates with museum spokesman in 10th paragraph.)

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that failure to open the Sept. 11 memorial in time for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks would have been an “embarrassment around the world.”

Bloomberg, chairman of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, made his comment a day after an audit by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey found that rushing to meet that deadline led to cost overruns.

“Can you imagine if America couldn’t have come up with a memorial by the 10th anniversary?” Bloomberg, 69, said today at a news conference in East Harlem. “New York had to deliver. The Port Authority had to deliver.”

The Port Authority, which is rebuilding the World Trade Center, said auditors found that the cost of the project has grown to $14.8 billion from about $11 billion in part because the expedited schedule increased costs at an adjacent mass- transit hub and the memorial.

The audit also found “a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning process, insufficient cost controls and a lack of transparent and effective oversight” of the trade center.

‘Dropped the Ball’

Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey ordered the financial review in August, when they backed a Port Authority plan to raise tolls $4.50 over five years for the bridges and tunnels it operates.

“The people who were in charge of this thing dropped the ball and didn’t give a complete picture of how much it was going to cost,” Christie said at a news conference today. He said he discussed the audit with Cuomo last week and that the two governors will recommend changes, which he didn’t specify.

The Port Authority said it expects to recover $1.6 billion for work it is doing for other public agencies and private entities, including the national memorial. The September 11 Memorial and Museum has raised $400 million in private money, Bloomberg said today. The museum hasn’t opened yet.

“I don’t think the costs for the memorial or the museum are higher than what was originally envisioned,” Bloomberg said. “They asked us to raise some more money and we did that.”

Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the memorial and museum, said the Port Authority’s auditors didn’t contact the organization for their report.

On Hold

The Port Authority won’t continue building the museum “unless it’s clear” that the agency will be reimbursed, said Scott Rechler, an agency board member, in a telephone interview today.

Bloomberg and Cuomo have clashed over money that each says the other owes to finish work on the memorial and museum. The dispute will probably postpone the museum’s scheduled Sept. 11, 2012, opening, the mayor has said.

Cuomo says the memorial foundation owes the agency $300 million for infrastructure work. The mayor says the Port Authority was responsible and owes the foundation $140 million for construction delays.

The Port Authority has spent about $500 million of the $1.6 billion on work it estimates it will perform for third-parties, Rechler said.

In addition to reimbursements from the museum, the Port Authority is seeking $500 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subways. The authority said it needs assurances that it will be reimbursed for $300 million in security spending and $200 million for a planned performing arts center. The Port Authority hasn’t spent any money on the performing arts center yet, Rechler said.

The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

--with assistance from Henry Goldman in New York and Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey. Editors: Mark Schoifet, Stephen Merelman

To contact the reporters on this story: Martin Z. Braun in New York at mbraun6@bloomberg.net; Esme Deprez in New York at Edeprez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net


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