Workers were scheduled to break ground Tuesday on the planned three and a half-story structure, which will be built just north of where the Alfred P. Murrah Building stood before April 19, 1995. The building was destroyed when Timothy McVeigh parked a truck loaded with a fertilizer bomb nearby.
The structure will be built on a two-block area under security guidelines a task force created after the bombing. It will feature open areas that easily can be monitored.
The reinforced structure will contain explosion-resistant glass facing a courtyard that separates the building in half and creates an entrance into a single lobby.
"I think it is going to be a more attractive setting than the Murrah Building, with a campus approach and a greenbelt," said Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla.
Several agencies that were housed in the Murrah building when it exploded have moved elsewhere and will not return.
Five agencies that were tenants in the old federal building have signed up to lease space in the new one, although some have expressed reservations.
Istook disagreed with statements by some employees who thought housing several agencies in one building might not be safe.
The congressman said it would be impractical to provide the level of security that will exist in the new building to agencies leasing space in scattered locations.
Corey Black of the General Services Administration said the Sept. 11 attack is not deterring agencies from leasing space in the new building.
Black said some have pointed to parking problems in the downtown area, while others have expressed concern about returning to an area that was once one of the nation's most gruesome crime scenes.
In addition, the Oklahoma City National Memorial is less than a block from the construction site.
"Some said they didn't want to walk past that every day," Black said.
McVeigh was executed in June for the bombing. His co-defendant, Terry Nichols, was given a life term on a federal conviction and faces trial on state murder charges.
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