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Agreement reached for Sept. 11 museum's completion

NEW YORK – An agreement that paves the way for the completion of the Sept. 11 museum at ground zero was reached Monday, the eve of the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks.

The agreement between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the foundation that controls the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was announced Monday.

The museum was supposed to open this month, but construction all but ceased a year ago because of a funding squabble between the foundation and the Port Authority, which owns the World Trade Center site.

Three powerful political figures became entangled in the dispute: The governors of New York and New Jersey control the Port Authority, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the foundation's chairman.

"By ensuring that no additional public funds are spent to complete the Memorial and Museum," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "today's agreement puts in place a critical and long overdue safeguard to finally protect toll payers and taxpayers from bearing further costs, and, at the same time, put the project on a path for completion."

Bloomberg said the agreement "ensures that it will be restarted very soon and will not stop until the museum is completed."

"The museum is important to the families of those who died on 9/11 — they've contributed photos and memories of their lost loved ones, who deserve a thoughtful tribute," he said.

The memorandum of understanding announced Monday addresses issues including coordination of the site and financial terms. The agreement outlines how much capital the memorial will have on hand and that it will give the Port Authority a security deposit equal to six months' utility expenses.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement he was "gratified to be a part of a unified commitment and agreement with Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg to immediately resume around the clock construction at the 9/11 Museum."

The underground museum is to house such artifacts as the staircase workers used to escape the attacks. Visitors also will be able to see portraits of the nearly 3,000 victims and hear oral histories of Sept. 11.

The memorial includes a plaza, where waterfalls fill the fallen towers' footprints. Almost 4.5 million people have visited it since it opened last September.

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Follow Deepti Hajela at http://twitter.com/dhajela

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