Towers Were Unique

On behalf of The American Society of Civil Engineers' Committee on Design of Steel Building Structures, I am writing to thank you for the editorial "Office Towers Are Safest Buildings of Them All" (ENR 4/8 p. 48). It is important that a technically sound and nonbiased assessment be made of the response of the World Trade Center Towers to the destructive terrorist attack of Sep. 11. The profession has every reason to believe that the Federal Emergency Management Agency/ASCE report will be such a document.

Unfortunately, certain segments of the print media, apparently fed by special interest groups, are providing their own interpretations based upon a draft version of the report that has not yet been released to the public. Thus, the public's first opportunity to assess the performance of the buildings is through those biased eyes.

Your editorial clearly and correctly points out the inappropriateness of the comparisons between three previous high-rise fires and the World Trade Center fires. It also makes a strong case for the fire safety that we believe is inherent in high-rise buildings. Thank you for bringing these knowledgeable and professional comments to the public. I look forward to your reporting on the final version of the FEMA/ASCE report when it is made public.

The article on building new electrical transmission lines talked about two different tactics being taken to hire and train labor for these upcoming projects (ENR 6/10 p. 28). The editorial on the last page praised the innovation of both organized labor and merit shop companies. However, I seriously question the need for Fred Haag and Quanta Services to bring in foreign nationals to do this work when American citizens are more than ready to answer the call to repower America. The construction workers of America expect a safe work place with reasonable pay and benefits.

I appreciate your editorial endorsement for the high-speed rail projects this country has been overlooking for years (ENR 6/3 p. 72). Being just 50 miles outside of the Pittsburgh, Pa., area, it has always been our hope that the Maglev project would have left the station long before now. It's heartening that your editorial supports a great need for true high-speed ground transportation to serve so many economic needs.

The telecommunications article in The Top 500 Design Firms Sourcebook contained three incorrect statements (July p. 80). Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications Inc. is not in bankruptcy and has just received a $500-million cash infusion. The Williams Communications Group, in April, entered into a debt restructuring program through a negotiated Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Its operating subsidiary, Williams Communications LLC, was not involved in the reorganization. And is now operating under new ownership.