- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The first 25-ton steel column for the new Freedom Tower was installed yesterday at ground zero, another milestone in prolonged efforts to build an office tower to replace the World Trade Center.

The 31-foot-high white steel column, painted with an American flag and the words “Freedom Tower,” was picked up by a crane and set into place on the southern edge of the planned 1,776-foot building. Politicians and workers at the site cheered as the column was installed shortly after 11:30 a.m.

“Today the steel rises, the Freedom Tower rises from the ashes of September 11, and the people of New York and the people of America can be proud,” Gov. George E. Pataki said. Another column, about a foot taller and covered with signatures from steelworkers and politicians in Virginia, was installed a little later.

In the next two weeks, more columns will be set around the perimeter, including two covered with signatures of September 11 victims’ families, steelworkers, architects and politicians.

— about 70 feet from the bottom of ground zero.

The 27 columns — among the largest made in the world — were forged in Luxembourg, then shipped to Lynchburg, Va., to be fabricated so they could be installed at the foundation. The entire tower will be built with 45,000 tons of steel, builders say.

The tower has been redesigned several times; politicians laid a granite cornerstone in July 2004 to begin construction but later had to move the building after city police said it would be vulnerable to terrorism in its location.

Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer and the incoming head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is building the tower, recently said they planned to look again at the tower’s designs. Mr. Spitzer also has questioned the tower’s economic viability, although he has committed to moving the governor’s office there when it opens in 2011. State and federal agencies have agreed to occupy half of the building’s office space.

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