Mayor says cleanup at World Trade Center site could take a year
Friday, September 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Friday it could take a year to finish the cleanup at the World Trade Center, citing the difficulty in removing tons of debris from the massive grave.
``The amount of time they need to remove and clear the site will range anywhere from nine months to one year,'' Giuliani said.
It will take that long, he said, because of the complexity in removing structures ``that have been driven into the ground'' once surface debris is carted away.
The official number of people missing in the still-smoldering rubble has dropped to 5,960 from nearly 6,400. Giuliani said the number was lowered after a review of victim lists compiled primarily from missing persons reports and information from foreign consulates following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
As debris is cleared from the 16-acre site, human remains continue to be removed for identification. So far, 305 deaths have been confirmed.
``If you stare at the debris and think of all the people buried there it will get to you,'' said Peter Russo, 55, a carpenter from Old Bridge, N.J., who was building sheds for work crews. ``I have to look at it as a job, that the cleanup and rebuilding needs to be done.''
Tons of steel and concrete cover the blocks where the 110-story towers once stood. Despite the delicate search for victims, crews have begun assembling giant cranes capable of lifting hundreds of tons.
``Every day we come down here, another 50 feet off the pile is gone,'' said Brian Bowman, 26, a Verizon worker restoring phone service near the site. ``Every day we come down here, there's a new crane.''
Separately, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said a grand jury investigation has begun into looting at the site. He said organized crime investigators are involved.
On Thursday, a color guard ceremony on the 10th-floor roof of a nearby building to honor veterans who died in the collapse.
Broken glass littered the rooftop where the color guard of active Marines in uniform and former or reserve Marines from the Police Department, all in hard hats, flew the flags of the United States and its Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard.
As the ceremony ended, the color guard and some workers below snapped salutes. On the building, a banner read: ``We Will Never Forget.''
``We don't know how many veterans were killed in this terrorist act,'' Marine Maj. David Andersen said. ``We may never know. But we do know there were many among the rescuers and the other victims and this is to honor them all.''
Away from the site, mandatory carpooling rules intended to ease traffic jams that have slowed the city since the attacks were in place for a second morning Friday. Single-occupant cars were banned from coming into Manhattan via several East River bridges and tunnels.
The rules for the first time included the busy Lincoln Tunnel linking Manhattan to New Jersey, but authorities said volume was down and the hour-long backups that stretched two miles to the New Jersey Turnpike were not unusual.
The traffic jam in Weehawken looked familiar to police Sgt. Mitchell Chasmar.
``Inbound is stopped, and westbound is crawling. I advise walking,'' Chasmar said. ``It doesn't look any worse to me than a normal rush-hour.''
Giuliani said the 6 a.m.-noon ban would be evaluated after Friday and there was a possibility they might be extended next week. It will not be in force this weekend.
On Saturday, the Empire State Building's observation deck was to reopen. Except for a brief trial period Sept. 15, the 86th floor observatory had been closed to the public since the terrorist attacks.