Pentagon Project: Under Budget, Ahead of Schedule
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 11, 2002 Early Tuesday morning many daily commuters on Route 27 hit their brakes as they passed the site of last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Some even stopped. For the first time since then, the lights were on inside the reconstructed building.
"For 273 days, every single night, we've had spotlights on the outside of the building," said Walker Lee Evey, renovation program manager. "In many instances, we had people working up on the side of the building in those spotlights. Tonight, the lights go off. The story outside the building is over. We've completed that work.
"The story now moves to the inside of the building," he said. "That's where the challenge is. That's where our success must be achieved."
In another 92 days -- by Sept. 11, he said at a Pentagon news briefing -- offices destroyed at the point of impact in the attack would be furnished, occupied and back in business.
"We have already moved about 2,000 people back into the building, in portions of Wedge 1 and Wedge 2," he said. These areas were badly damaged by fire, smoke and water during the attack.
The original estimated cost for the project was about $740 million, Evey noted. By negotiating prices and achieving top contractor performance, the estimated cost has dropped to $501 million. To date, the project has cost $400 million. Savings will be used to further improve force protection.
The project already includes installing more concrete and masonry walls with added rebar reinforcement in areas that previously had only wallboard. Photo luminescent signs will direct people to exits. Additional standpipe feeds for the water sprinkler system are being installed. More half corridors are being added to provide more ways for people to get out of the building.
"There's a great deal of interest is being paid toward what we're doing and the success we're achieving," Evey said. "In general, there are three things that characterize construction: cost overrun, schedule delay and litigation. On our program, we have not had cost overrun, schedule delay or litigation. That makes us a little bit odd."
From the beginning, the reconstruction and renovation project has consistently been ahead of schedule, Evey said. Construction crews began work Oct. 18.
A month later, the area destroyed by the crash and subsequent fireball was cleared and, on Nov. 19, workers began installing rebar for columns. By Feb. 25, workers replaced the first blast-resistant window on the outside ring. March 4, workers placed the first slab of limestone. April 5, workers poured the last concrete onto the roof. The physical building structure was done.
Evey attributed the project's speed to the workers' personal motivation and dedication. "People don't really pay that much attention to what their title is, what their job is, what they've been specifically told to do or what the normal constraints are in the way they operate," he said. "Everyone's there to make that project successful. They pitch in. They work. They help. They support one another and it's been very effective."
Site managers had to plan, organize, direct and train the crews, and they had to lead, he said. "Leadership is different than management," Evey said. "Leaders have to have a clear vision. They have to have the guts to implement that vision, even if they're not absolutely certain of success."
In all, Evey said, more than 3,000 people worked on the program. "Every single one of them gave tremendously of themselves. You couldn't have asked more of any worker, ever, anywhere."
Public support for the program has been phenomenal, Evey added. About 220 students at Moorefield Middle School in West Virginia raised and donated $10,000. Students at Parkside Elementary School in Spotsylvania County, Va., raised $515 during a penny pitch and used it to buy pizza for the construction workers.
Officers' spouses from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., donated gloves for the workers, each pair containing a personal note. Corporate sponsors included Sherwin Williams Co., which donated 10,000 gallons of paint, and Bently Systems Inc, which donated $25,000.