Associated Press WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- The long cleanup and search for remains at the World Trade Center site will end with a ceremony on May 30 as the last heap of Sept. 11 debris is hauled away, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.
The job will have been completed three months faster than city officials had predicted -- in part because of the extraordinarily mild winter -- and will have cost about $750 million, or about one-tenth the initial estimate of $7 billion.
The work by thousands of people has gone on nonstop for more than eight months.
The May 30 ceremony, which is expected to draw thousands of victims' relatives and rescue workers, is set for 10:29 a.m. -- the moment the second of the towers fell -- at the seven-story crater where the skyscrapers once stood.
The service will include the ceremonial removal of a 30-foot steel column that was part of the south tower. It is the last piece of steel still standing.
"This is a symbolic end of the process and a way of saying thank-you to those who have worked so hard and taken such risks," the mayor said.
The backbreaking task began as a hand-and-bucket search for survivors in the hours after two hijacked jetliners brought down the twin towers. The last survivor was rescued from the smoking, 10-story rubble pile on Sept. 12. As days turned to weeks, the work shifted to the recovery of human remains, and contractors and heavy equipment were brought in.