By JOSH ROGERS | (Posted May 4, 2015 and last updated May 7) It was 40 or 50 small steps for man, and though it won’t be remembered as “a giant leap for mankind,” it did make a little World Trade Center history.
Yves Guelat, a Swiss businessman on his way to a meeting at one World Financial Center, ended up being the first to traverse the newly opened sidewalk on the north side of Liberty St. May 5, 2015 just before 10 a.m.
“It was a pleasure to do so,” he told Downtown Express, after he found out why two photographers were taking pictures of him near 4 W.T.C.
The Port Authority’s Steve Plate, who is in charge of W.T.C. construction, and his colleague Glenn Guzi used just their hands rather than ceremonial scissors to remove the tape blocking the sidewalk. Within seconds, Guelat, Stephanie Adams, a business colleague from Boston, and several others passed through as if it had always been open.
The W.T.C.’s PATH station expands on Thursday, May 7 when Platform B opens, said Plate, who’s been directly involved with W.T.C. rebuilding since 9/11.He said it puts the station back to pre-9/11 capacity. New entrances at 4 W.T.C. and the 2 W.T.C. site are expected to open soon, probably in June, although the complete opening of the $4 billion expanded station is still a ways off.
At Liberty on Tuesday, Plate said, “We’re really close to being finished. It’s part of connecting the site back into the fabric of this great city.”
Erica Dumas, a Port spokesperson, said the day before that “this is an early opening” for the north side of Liberty, which has been closed since 9/11, nearly 14 years ago.
“That’s great news,” Steven Abramson, who lives on the other side of Liberty, said a day before the opening. “We really get creamed on the south side of Liberty St…. “It’s still going to be bottleneck, but I’ll be able to hop across the street and walk away.”
On Wednesday, he said neighbors have been telling him they notice an improvement.
Abramson and other residents on the block have said that the opening of part of Liberty St. last May, which coincided with the opening of the 9/11 Museum and less fettered access to the memorial plaza, led to a crush of tourists on the block.
The opening of 4 W.T.C. last October, exacerbated the problem, Abramson said, because it prompted to new security measures, including concrete barriers on the southern sidewalk.
Abramson said he had heard a few weeks ago that the sidewalk opening would come sometime next month, but last Thursday during a walkthrough with him, members of Community Board 1 and other leaders, Port officials said the change would happen this week in an unspecified day.
He said it seems community persistence is paying off.
“I like to pressure them, on the other hand, I like to do it in such a way that we can have a constructive dialogue,” he said. “I don’t want it to be like Congress where both sides butt heads and nothing gets done.”