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WTC memorial finalists to be revealed

Train station on site to reopen in November

From Phil Hirschkorn

Reconstruction continues at the World Trade Center train station.
Reconstruction continues at the World Trade Center train station.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The World Trade Center memorial design competition is down to eight finalists, and their visions will be displayed to the public the week of November 17, New York Gov. George Pataki announced Thursday.

The winning memorial will be constructed on the site which held the 110-story Twin Towers and five other buildings before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It will honor the more than 2,700 people killed in the terror attacks which brought down the World Trade Center, as well as the six people killed in the February 26, 1993, terrorist truck bombing of the center.

A 13-member jury whittled down 5,200 anonymous entrants from 63 countries. The finalists then were asked to enhance their designs.

"When the designs are released, emotions will run high," Pataki said. "We will not all agree. But in the end there is no right way to remember. It is only right that we do remember."

The jury is expected to choose a winning design by the end of the year.

Before then, the first major construction project at the site will be complete, Pataki said.

The rebuilt temporary station for the train that carries commuters from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan, known as PATH, is set to open on November 23.

Pataki led reporters on a tour of the station, where an average of 67,000 daily commuters boarded the train before September 11.

The station, with three platforms and five tracks for trains traveling between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Jersey City, New Jersey, has been rebuilt in its former location over 16 months.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the transportation agency that runs the PATH and owns the trade center site, spent $556 million on the project, which included replacing tracks in tunnels underneath the Hudson River.

Pataki and New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey will ride the ceremonial first train with cars that rescued the last people standing on the old platform before the South Tower collapsed.

"Those same eight cars that left the station on that fateful morning will be the first to come back," Pataki said.

Pataki also announced that the final design for what is being called Freedom Tower, a 1,776-foot, tallest-in-the-world skyscraper conceived by architect Daniel Libeskind, will be revealed December 15.

The revised design will represent a collaboration between Libeskind, the master site planner, and David Childs, the architect for real estate developer Larry Silverstein, the trade center leaseholder who retains redevelopment rights and hopes to replace all 10 million square feet of office space at the 16-acre site.

Pataki said former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who now lives in New York, has agreed to mediate the impasse in the way of the rebuilding plan: the former American headquarters of Deutsche Bank, shrouded in black on the southern end of the site.

A dispute between the bank and its insurer, Allianz, has prevented dismantling of the damaged 41-story building.

In all, more than $6 billion in federal funds has been allocated to rebuild transportation infrastructure and buildings at the site, Pataki said.

The governor predicted the current plans will create 8,000 construction jobs in New York City and 11,000 jobs regionally over the next 12 years, and completion of the entire plan around 2015 will generate 90,000 permanent jobs, including 42,000 on site.

Around 100,000 jobs were lost as a result of the September 11 attacks.

Lower Manhattan still suffers from a 13 percent vacancy rate in commercial real estate, but this year 3 million square feet of space have been leased, Pataki said.

On Wall Street, he said, a plan is in the works to remove police barricades and concrete barriers that block vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the Stock Exchange.

"We must always balance measures that safeguard life with quality of life," Pataki said.

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