PITTSBURGH – The Flight 93 memorial will be built in phases and only 40 percent will be completed in time for a ribbon-cutting on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
But family members of the 40 passengers and crew who died on the hijacked United Airlines flight said they're not disappointed the whole project won't be ready by Sept. 11, 2011.
"We are glad we will have a substantial memorial to dedicate," Patrick White, vice president of Families of Flight 93, said Saturday after a meeting of the Flight 93 federal task force and advisory commission in Somerset.
The initial phase will allow visitors to get close to the clash site, according to the National Park Service. It will include a plaza that extends along the edge of the crash site, with a ceremonial wall and drop-off to separate visitors from the crash site.
"Phasing is really a way to manage the funding," said Joanne Hanley, Flight 93 National Memorial superintendent. "We are building an entire national park and the funding ... is coming in at different times."
The memorial will be built in three phases, with the first phase done in three parts. The first part is not expected to cost more than $22.5 million and will be 40 percent of the project. That section will be ready by 2011, provide "a complete visitor experience" and be able to accommodate the estimated 250,000 visitors annually, the park service said.
The entire first phase, which includes a visitors center, will make up 80 percent of the memorial and park, at a cost of $54 million to $58 million, Hanley said.
The cost of the entire project also has gone up due to rising fuel and construction costs, as well as increases in the consumer and producer price indices, Hanley said. The initial $58 million price tag was based on 2004 estimates.
"If we didn't have any cost increases it would appear more odd than if we did," Hanley said. "Our design team estimated an increase of 6 percent a year in the cost estimates from 2004 to 2010."
The Families of Flight 93 raised about $12.5 million in a capital campaign and expects to raise $6 million to $7 million more toward the initial $22.5 million, White said. The group also asked Congress to appropriate $6.2 million this year.
White, whose cousin, Louis "Joey" Nacke II, died aboard Flight 93, said building the memorial in phases could make it easier to raise money.
"We can make clear what the fundraising objectives are and it allows donors to see specific projects that fit with their preferences," he said.
Gordon Felt, whose brother, Edward Felt, died on Flight 93, said he expects a Flight 93 national tribute on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C. will help boost fundraising.
"It is becoming a focal point of the giving," he said.
Also on Saturday, protesters who claim the memorial's design contains Islamic symbols gave the advisory commission an online petition calling for a congressional inquiry into the design.
Felt, White and others dismiss the claims and say there won't be drastic changes to the design.
Flight 93 was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked and diverted Sept. 11, 2001. An official investigation concluded the hijackers crashed the plane in a Somerset County field when passengers tried to wrest control of the cockpit.