WTC museum cost overrun baffles NYC mayor

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 03, 2012 7:03 PM

(Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday admitted he could not figure out who owed money to whom in a dispute over paying for the National September 11 Museum.

Clashes over financing and designing the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, which includes the museum, have delayed construction by years, driving costs up by billions of dollars.

"I just don't know what the truth of the matter is," said Bloomberg on his Friday WOR radio show.

Bloomberg, a former bond trader, said the documents were so difficult to understand that three different conclusions could be drawn from them.

"These numbers are so complex...that I can look at them and say 'We are under budget, we are on budget, or we are over budget.'"

Bloomberg chairs the World Trade Center Foundation, which raises money for the museum and the memorial.

The clash over financing between the foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is building the underground museum, has halted work. This will keep the museum from opening on September 11, 2012 as planned.

The foundation wants the Port Authority to pay it $140 million for missing construction deadlines, according to a source familiar with the issue. But the Port Authority says it is owed $300 million in construction costs, said the source, who requested anonymity.

Asked about the battle, a Port Authority spokesman said: "We are in active discussions with the city."

(Reporting By Joan Gralla)