Officials now say that the authority, which is overseeing the rebuilding effort, can have most elements of the memorial - a broad landscaped plaza, waterfalls that flow into two underground chambers where the twin towers stood, and parapet walls lined with the names of those killed in the attacks in 2001 and in 1993 - completed by Aug 2011. This is possible in part because of a new, simplified design for a vast transit mezzanine that would sit beneath the northeast corner of the memorial plaza, reports the New York Times.
The proposal emerged at a hastily called meeting of a Ground Zero working group on Tuesday, Sep 23 only nine days before the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is to unveil a new, more realistic budget and timetable for rebuilding the trade center site with new streets, office towers, a cultural complex, stores and an eight-acre memorial and museum.
Mayor Michael R Bloomberg and the memorial foundation have vigorously insisted in recent weeks that the 610 million dollar memorial must be open to the public by Sep 11, 2011, a goal that the authority had until recently said was impossible.
The rebuilding of ground zero has been hampered by competing political agendas, long delays, swelling costs and calamities, like the 2007 blaze at the former Deutsche Bank tower in which two firefighters died.
In March 2007, state and city officials received an internal report indicating that many projects downtown could be delayed by as much as five years, although the Port Authority largely dismissed the findings.
In June, Governor Paterson asked the Port Authority, which owns the land at the site, to assess the overall effort and publish an unvarnished report on its findings.
The authority's new executive director, Mr Ward, acknowledged that the authority faced "significant delays and cost overruns."
Perhaps none of the 26 separate projects at Ground Zero is more fraught with emotion and politics than the memorial, which will cover the western half of the site.