- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2001

The death and destruction from Tuesday's terrorist attack on the Pentagon would have been "much, much worse" if the jetliner had not hit the renovated section of the building, a government official said yesterday, vowing that the military headquarters will once again be a mighty fortress.
Lee Evey, manager of the Pentagon's renovation project, said it would cost "hundreds of millions of dollars" and take "a couple of years" to repair the damaged portion of the building.
Terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into Wedge 1, the first of five sections being renovated in an ongoing Pentagon project, Mr. Evey said, adding that Wedge 1 did not have many people inside.
"If Wedge 1 and Wedge 2 were fully populated, OK, there would be about 10,000 people in there," Mr. Evey said. "I think the fact that they happened to hit an area that we had built so sturdily was a wonderful gift."
At least 125 Pentagon personnel are presumed dead in the attack.
Most of the Army, Navy and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel — civilian and military — were in other parts of the building or leased office space, and were just beginning to move into the new offices that were designed to withstand fires, weather disasters and renovated to make the World War II-era building "last another 50 years," Mr. Evey said.
About 85 percent of the people in Wedge 1 had moved into Wedge 2 as part of a 12-year, $1.2 billion renovation.
The Defense Department yesterday announced that a contract had been awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Colorado to begin rebuilding damaged portions of the Pentagon and to continue other renovation in the building. The initial contract is $145 million and goes mostly to the restoration of Wedge 2. Estimates are that as much as $1.5 billion will be needed to repair the Pentagon, including cleanup efforts.
Other portions of the contract include Shalom Baranes Associates, HDR Architecture, MC Dean, Studio Architecture and Southland Industries.
The renovated structure that experienced most of the explosion when the jetliner loaded with 30,000 gallons of fuel struck had been rebuilt in such way that it saved many lives, Mr. Evey said.
Blast-proof windows that are still in their frames, bolted-down joints that are made to take such an impact, and other marvels of construction and engineering such as steel re-enforced joints, he said, kept the plane from plunging farther into the five rings and five stories of the building.
The outer "rings" of the Pentagon — the E, D and C sections — took much of the hit and the collapsed area has left a 100-foot gash in the middle of the section.
"Had we not taken these undertakings, many, many more lives could [have been] lost," Mr. Evey said, noting that on the fourth floor of Wedge 1, just 40 feet away from the blast, is "a large display case, without even a crack."
He said lives also were saved because the floors did not collapse for 30 to 35 minutes after the 9:40 a.m. attack.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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