The management of Ground Zero will not change hands.

New York City officials announced that Bechtel Corp., a San Francisco-based construction giant, will not take over the management of the $2.5 billion cleanup of Ground Zero.

The four major contractors who have been on the project since the beginning, Turner Construction, Bovis Lend Lease, Amec and Tully, will continue with their recovery efforts at Ground Zero under the Department of Design and Construction.

“New York City decided to stick with the city agency that has been managing the cleanup effort since Sept. 11,” said Bechtel spokesman Alexander Winslow. “We respect and accept their decision and are not surprised by it. We had been in extensive conversations with different city officials and departments and were with them step by step as we were figuring out the situation.”

Bechtel Corp. and Bovis Lend Lease, one of the four major contractors at Ground Zero, were both in negotiations with New York City officials for the role of program manager.

Winslow said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani invited Bechtel to make a proposal in the last week of October after the contractor delivered a comprehensive health and safety report to the city.

“We showed up on Sept. 12 and 13 immediately following the terrorist attacks on a voluntary basis because we wanted to help,” Winslow said. “We were then involved on a relatively informal basis helping with the cleanup and recovery effort. We provided field engineering and rigging experts, who figured out how to handle big loads and cranes. We ended up being most involved with the health and safety aspects of the cleanup effort.”

Mayor Giuliani selected Bechtel for a bid because of the company's reputation in the industry, Winslow said.

“He respected and appreciated what we brought and the value that we could add,” he said. “We have a lot of experience with emergency response and disaster relief projects. We were brought in by the governor of Pennsylvania to clean up Three Mile Island and were brought into Kuwait to extinguish the oil field fires, cap all the wells and clean up all the damage.”

Although not a New York-based contractor, Bechtel has been involved with construction projects in New York City since 1946. Currently, Bechtel has five major projects in New York including the Air Train, a new 8.4-mile light-rail system and the 10-year, $4.3 billion East Side Access Project.

Giuliani considered hiring a private company so the other contractors could return to their normal construction jobs around New York City. Because of the complexity of the operations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps. of Engineers advised the city to not shift the management of the site from a city agency to a private construction company.

“The city decided not against Bechtel or Bovis, but rather to continue to manage the program as they have since September 11,” he said. “They divided Ground Zero into four quadrants in terms of how to tackle the cleanup effort, and each contractor is working on a quadrant.”

The four contractors have been working steadily since Sept. 11, and progress is ahead of schedule according to a Dec. 8 article in the New York Post. Winslow commended Turner Construction, which is now done with its quadrant at Ground Zero, and the other contractors and workers for all that they have done for the cleanup and recovery effort.

“We're proud to have contributed to the rescue and recovery effort and extend our best wishes to New York City and the other contractors that they continue their work,” Winslow said. “We will not be working on Ground Zero, but we will be continuing our current projects in New York, where we have been part of the engineering and construction community for more than 50 years.”

CLEANING UP GROUND ZERO

1.2 million tons of building debris are being removed from Ground Zero, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


CEE News launched a special section devoted to the Sept. 11 tragedy. For breaking news, visit www.ceenews.com. If your company has contributed to the rescue and recovery effort, e-mail your stories to Staff Writer Amy Florence Fischbach at afischbach@primediabusiness.com.