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At New York's New World Trade Center, Uncommon Cooperation

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The port authority's head “cop” is Steven Plate, deputy chief of capital planning and director of WTC construction. “I have everyone check their résumés at the door,” he says, referring to the frequent coordination meetings he leads with the principals of the hundreds of contractors and consulting firms involved with the development.

Most decisions that cross boundaries are made by consensus, Plate adds, saying, “Making real-time decisions is important. You can't get into analysis paralysis, or you will have 1,000 people idling, waiting for a decision.”

Of late, the port authority is writing checks for over $160 million a month, says Plate. This year, he expects port authority contractors to put almost $2 billion worth of work in place. Last year, the number was $1.6 billion. In 2009, it was $1.2 billion.

Plate says there are between 3,200 and 3,400 workers on-site each day.

Worker safety is a big concern. After analyzing fall protection, the port authority issued a two-clip policy so that a worker in a hazardous area is never without a tether. “We have a three-strike policy,” says Plate.

The third time anyone is caught without two clips on, the person is sent home. Plate says there have been no deaths, only some broken bones.

Keeping the WTC secure from terrorist attacks is a constant theme. During construction, the port authority has around-the-clock surveillance. At gate checkpoints, there is a system that runs a worker's Social Security number, and there is an iris scan.

For security's sake, WTC players are mum on many details of the complex. “We follow guidelines generated by experts,” says Plate.

In the end, even among competitors, there is an esprit de corps. “This is not about me or about individuals,” says Plate. “This is about giving back to the region, the country and to the people lost on 9/11,” he says.


This article was updated to clarify the estimated cost of the World Trade Center redevelopment..

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