Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 155

The Freedom Tower (1WTC) is approaching its topping out. The tower is probably a week or two away from completing the bulk of construction. While the tower's antenna would remain to be built, the rest of the tower would be in the process of being fitted out for occupation.

Meanwhile, the NYPD has come up with a new security plan that makes little sense and would do more to disrupt traffic in Lower Manhattan than one could possibly imagine. It goes to the very inanity of the master plan's intention to restore the street grid (which resulted in a reduction of space that could be dedicated for the museum and memorial).

The security plan would create vehicle checkpoints along all major thoroughfares leaning towards the Trade Center site.
The NYPD's controversial new security plan for the World Trade Center will place stringent vehicle checkpoints and barricaded secure zones on all four sides of the complex, locking down several neighboring blocks lined with residential buildings and businesses beginning as soon as next year, police revealed.

Residents were in an uproar after learning of the NYPD's preliminary plans — unveiled at a Community Board 1 meeting Monday night — that will not only close off all the streets running through the World Trade Center site but will also close portions of Liberty Street, Vesey Street, Church Street, Washington Street, Greenwich Street and West Broadway.

"Am I going to have to go through security ever time I try to get home?" asked Mark Scherzer, 60, who has lived at 125 Cedar St. for 34 years and would now be partially in a secure zone.
"We didn't sign on to be part of the Trade Center campus," Scherzer added. "It's very concerning."

Vehicles looking to access the restricted areas will have to detour through one of four checkpoints and will have to submit to a security screening before being allowed inside, police said.

Lt. David Kelly, who works in the NYPD's counterterrorism bureau, told Community Board 1 that the security measures are necessary to protect the new World Trade Center towers from a truck bomb.

The four entry points include: Washington Street, between Barclay and Vesey streets, for 7 World
Trade Center's loading docks; West Broadway, between Barclay and Vesey streets, for livery and private vehicles; Trinity Place, at Liberty Street, for tour buses; and West Street, at Liberty Street, for vehicles going underground to make deliveries or park, Kelly said.

At each entry point, vehicles will first pass through a credentialing zone, where drivers will have to show that they have legitimate business on the site, and then they will go through security screening, Kelly said.

While residents may be able to register their cars as trusted vehicles and circumvent some of the security, the NYPD has not yet determined the details, and it may be especially difficult for those who rely on cabs.

Kelly said the security would be more advanced than the measures now in place in areas like the New York Stock Exchange, where vehicles are checked with dogs and mirrors.
Currently, there's a security checkpoint on Broadway below Liberty Street, and that has a tendency to back traffic up past City Hall. Additional checkpoints would be an additional inconvenience and makes one question the need for a vehicle security center for vehicles actually entering the WTC site.

This plan would essentially create a vehicle-free zone in Lower Manhattan, which may be something that the Bloomberg Administration wants, but it creates all manner of problem for those living and working in Lower Manhattan. It would create undue hardships for those living in Battery Park City and would be a further cost on the NYPD budget.

Under this proposal, the security perimeter for the WTC complex would be moved further away from the 16 acres that comprise the site. We don't see this kind of security in Washington DC, where major streets remain passable without security checkpoints, even around the White House.

However, if the NYPD asserts a vehicle free zone, then why was a street grid so necessary for purposes of the master plan? That's a question that the Port Authority has to answer - and one that makes little sense.

Frankly, a vehicle free zone (prohibiting cars and thru-traffic trucks) around the World Trade Center site would be a welcome addition due to the amount of congestion. It would allow buses to run more efficiently through the area and reduce congestion and pollution.

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