BY JOSH ROGERS (UPDATED 9:05 p.m., OCT. 24, 2014) | Port Authority employees on Monday, will be the first office workers to return to work at the World Trade Center since terrorists took the Twin Towers down just over 13 years ago. The reopening of 4 W.T.C. on Oct. 27 will ironically mean less freedom on Liberty St., as most vehicles will no longer be able to get through.
Cars and trucks doing business at the W.T.C., or making deliveries to Liberty St. residents or stores, or carrying residents will be permitted with proper ID. People visiting residents on the block will also be permitted to drive through after a short stop expected to be done in under two minutes.
Officials with the city and the Port, which owns the W.T.C., met with community leaders Thursday to go over the last details of the W.T.C. “Campus Security Plan” which has been in development now for many years.
“This is another milestone in transition from construction to occupancy at the site,” said Erica Dumas, a Port spokesperson. A city official who briefed Downtown Express on the plan Oct. 24 gave an almost verbatim statement — one of several indications that the city and Port are working closely together on the W.T.C. years after many well-chronicled disputes over security and financial issues.
The city official said although residents in cars will have to show ID, that short slowdown will be counterbalanced by the fact that there will be less traffic on Liberty now that cars and trucks will no longer be able to use it as a through street.
In addition, Cedar St. traffic has recently been reversed to flow west, and Washington St. south of the W.T.C. will be reopened to traffic some time next week.
Pat Moore, a Cedar St. resident who heads Community Board 1’s quality of Life Committee, said the traffic changes will help alleviate some of the problems sure to surface as more office workers return to the site. The biggest effect will no doubt be on residents living on the block, she added.
“Thankfully, we’re a block away,” she said in response to a question about her personal situation.
Steven Abramson, who lives on the block and has been criticizing changes made to Liberty earlier this year, attended Thursday’s meeting with city and Port officials, and saw positive things in the plans.
“Actually, I’m optimistic about the plan for the people in my building, but we have to see how this works in practice,” Abramson wrote in an email to Downtown Express. “And even better news: it appears as if we will not have tour buses driving down Liberty St and dropping off passengers.”
Abramson, his neighbors, and Community Board 1, have all said that when the 9/11 Museum opened in May, and Liberty St. was reconnected to Battery Park City, it led to a crush of pedestrians, and officials have been working since then to relieve that problem.
As to the newest plan, the city official, who spoke on background, said with so few residents living on Liberty St., N.Y.P.D. officers will no doubt get to know who is allowed on the block and be able to deal with situations such as if a resident’s driver’s license shows a different address.
The Port’s Dumas said companies like Fresh Direct will be able to register trucks and drivers to deliver groceries on the block and even “a guy and a van” delivering furniture will be able to get through if a resident makes arrangements.
She described the early months of the program as a “grace period” when everyone finds out what works best and how to improve the system.
Monica Klein, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said: “The city is committed to balancing security needs with residents’ quality of life, and will continue to work closely with local businesses and residents to ensure the Campus Plan is minimally disruptive to their daily routines.”
Other attendees at the Oct. 23 meeting included Dep. Inspector Kevin Burke, the N.Y.P.D.’s commander at the Trade Center, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and State Sen. Daniel Squadron.
The following Monday, Nov. 3, the first workers will return to One W.T.C., a k a the Freedom Tower, when Conde Nast moves into the building.
SUMMARY OF THE CHANGES
o Residents of the area of Liberty St. opposite of 4 W.T.C. ( between Church and West Sts.) and their visitors will show ID to the N.Y.P.D. and be allowed to proceed regardless of whether they are in their own vehicle, a friend’s or in a taxi.
o No parking will be allowed on Liberty St., but vehicles will be permitted to quickly load or unload.
o Large deliveries will be coordinated through the Vehicle Security and Scheduling Software (VS3) and checked for explosives in the Vehicle Security Center (VSC).
o Pedestrians and cyclists will continue to have access to the W.T.C.
o To improve traffic flow in the area, the city has reversed traffic on Cedar St. to flow west, and is reopening Washington St. to traffic by early next week.
o The city anticipates less traffic on Liberty St. will allow it to remove barricades along the sidewalk in the near future.