C.B.1 says D.O.T. presentation leaves much to be desired


BY John Bayles

In just over 200 days all eyes will be on Lower Manhattan. Many of them will descend upon the WTC site in droves for the opening of the National 9/11 Memorial. They will come by bus, by car and by train, which means the clock is ticking for the NYC Department of Transportation to finalize a program to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

Luis Sanchez, the D.O.T. Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner, gave an update on the plan at Monday’s Community Board 1 WTC Redevelopment Committee meeting.

Sanchez said his team’s primary objective has been to “minimize the footprint, or better yet the tire tracks” when the site opens. He said the focus was to maximize the use of existing mass transit and create a manageable plan for curbside pickup and drop-off, as well as layover sites.

Sanchez listed numerous factors that contributed to the determining of curbside locations including the feasibility of tour bus turning movements, making sure primary emergency vehicle routes are not disrupted and ensuing minimal impact on ground floor retail stores in the area.

“It was a first start and there are a lot of questions yet to be answered,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chair of the committee.

C.B. 1 chair Julie Menin felt the same.

“The presentation was extremely important, but it’s just the tip of the ice berg,” said Menin.

The main sticking point with the both the committee members and those in the audience, was the uncertainty on behalf of the D.O.T. as to where the tour buses will be dropping off passengers, picking up passengers and where they will be parking for the day.

“There is concern about pedestrian flow and how it will be interfaced with the tour buses and the other buses, the commuter buses, the double-decker buses,” said Hughes.

Sanchez said the presentation and the overall plan for expected influx of people was the result numerous “working group” meetings. That statement came as a surprise to Menin.

“I was surprised to hear that the working group has been meeting without community board and residential and worker representation,” said Menin.

Menin demanded that C.B. 1 be allowed to appoint a board member to sit in on the working group meetings and Sanchez agreed.

“Also, what are we going to do to try and provide incentives for people to use mass transit,” remarked Menin. “We’re in a unique situation — the area has a dense, residential and commercial population.”

The D.O.T. plans to reach out to C.B.1 and other stakeholders to help determine the final locations for the buses and will make another presentation when the working group prepares its preliminary recommendations.