Left, Pool photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters; Right and Below, Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
The last pieces of the World Trade Center ramp were removed on Wednesday, above. Top left, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, seen here on Sept. 11, 2008, were two of thousands to have used the ramp to visit the site. Joe Daniels, president of the memorial foundation, on Wednesday, left. Behind him is the steel for the North Tower’s reflecting pool. The south pool will be built where the ramp used to be.
W.T.C. ramp becomes history
By Josh Rogers
The last pieces of the World Trade Center ramp that Barack Obama, John McCain and grieving family members walked as they descended down to the Twin Towers’ footprints on Sept. 11 anniversaries, were removed Wednesday in order to continue constructing the memorial.
“This is just a sign of great progress,” said Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He said the milestone does have a “bittersweet” element because it will mean family members will not be able to go to the site’s bedrock on 9/11 anniversaries until the memorial opens permanently.
Under the current schedule, the memorial plaza is expected to open temporarily on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The waterfalls, the two sunken reflecting pools at the footprints, the walls with the names of nearly 3,000 victims, and many of the plaza trees are expected to be in place by 2011, but the underground 9/11 museum, which will keep parts of the ramp in its permanent collection, will not be ready until 2013.
About 20 percent of the memorial’s steel has been installed and the shape of the North Tower pool is now visible. The ramp’s location blocked construction of the South Tower pool.
During the home stretch of last year’s presidential campaign, both candidates took a break on Sept. 11 to pay their respects. If President-elect Obama wishes to revisit the bedrock area sometime after being sworn in Tuesday, he will have to take the stairs like the construction workers.
Heavy construction equipment is no longer taken down the ramp on trucks and is moved down by cranes instead. Tom O’Connor, a senior construction engineer for the Port Authority, which owns the site and is building the memorial, said even though workers often used the 460-foot-long ramp as well, losing it will not slow down the work, and might even speed things up.
“It’s a very slow ramp,” he said. “It took a long time to walk down. The stairs are much faster.”