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Massive steel beams for 9/11 memorial arrive at Savannah port

    SAVANNAH — The steel beams shipped from overseas for use in construction of the 9/11 memorial in New York are so massive that a flatbed tractor-trailer can only carry one at a time.
    Measuring 72 feet in length and weighing 21.5 tons apiece, the I-beams loaded onto trucks Wednesday at the Port of Savannah will form part of the support trusses needed to build an underground museum 70 feet beneath the street-level memorial plaza at ground zero.
    ‘‘It’s a real tangible sign of progress,’’ said Joe Daniels, president of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, who traveled to Savannah to see the first 638 tons of steel arrive from overseas. ‘‘A lot of work being done on the site now is to prepare it for the steel.’’
    Scheduled to open in late 2009, the 8-acre memorial plaza on the World Trade Center site will feature a large grove of trees surrounding two large reflecting pools, an acre apiece, in the footprint of the Twin Towers destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
    The underground museum will feature exhibits ranging from pieces of the towers’ wreckage to eyewitness accounts of the attacks.
    The largest beams for the memorial had to be milled in Luxembourg because no U.S. companies produce them with the density — 593 pounds per foot of steel — required for the project.
    Before the steel supports arrive in New York, the beams will take a Southern detour from Savannah on the Georgia coast to Columbia, S.C., 160 miles to the north.
    South Carolina-based Owen Steel Company, the steel contractor for the $610 million memorial project, will build support columns and trusses from the steel beams at its Columbia headquarters.
    Lynn Dempsey, the steel company’s purchasing manager, said the steel supports should be ready to ship to New York by next summer.
    ‘‘This is a job you tell your grandchildren about,’’ Dempsey said.
    On the Net:
    World Trade Center Memorial Foundation

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