Pickup Trucks Must Go After Fatal Stock Exchange Accident, Locals Say

By Julie Shapiro on August 29, 2012 1:42pm 

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The pickup trucks that block traffic around the New York Stock Exchange are supposed to keep New Yorkers safe — but after one jumped the curb on Broad Street last week and killed a 70-year-old man, many Downtown residents are demanding changes.

Sorel Deps-Medina, of Queens, was eating lunch on the sidewalk on Broad Street when one of the trucks lurched onto the sidewalk as it was allowing a vehicle into the Stock Exchange's secure zone, police said.

The accident — which sent terrified workers and tourists screaming and diving out of the truck's path, near the Leman Manhattan Preparatory School — shows that it's time to rethink security in the busy area around the exchange, shaken residents said this week.

"It seems very problematic that security measures that were intended to prevent casualties are causing them instead," said Ro Sheffe, chairman of Community Board 1's Financial District Committee.

Even more disturbing, residents said, is the fact that the trucks, posted at several spots along Wall and Broad streets, were not supposed to be part of the permanent security solution.

Three years ago, the city spent $30 million in federal and private funds on a high-tech plan that was supposed to remove all temporary security measures, such as trucks and metal gates, from Broad and Wall streets.

The award-winning design by Rogers Marvel Architects created new pedestrian malls on Broad and Wall streets, guarded by turntable security checkpoints that would rotate open to allow screened vehicles to enter and then rotate closed to block off the street.

The cobblestone turntables, studded with bronze bollards, were widely hailed as an improvement over older, uglier security measures, but there was just one problem — they often didn't work.

Since they were installed in 2009, the turntables have repeatedly broken down, remaining stuck in the open position and out of commission for days, weeks or even months at a time, residents said.

Whenever the turntable security checkpoints on Broad Street are broken, T&M Protection Resources uses pickup trucks to block the street instead.
Whenever the turntable security checkpoints on Broad Street are broken, T&M Protection Resources uses pickup trucks to block the street instead.
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DNAinfo/Jessica Campbell

When that happens, the stock exchange directs its security company, T&M Protection Resources, to use pickup trucks to block the street instead, a source said.

Under the system, two trucks sit at each checkpoint, pulling away to allow traffic to pass only when vehicles are cleared by security.

Concerned residents said the city should either fix the turntables so they work all the time, or the Stock Exchange should find a new way of guarding the secure zone — without trucks.

"[The turntable] looks nice but it doesn't work," said Robb Tretter, a Financial District resident who has two children at Leman Manhattan. "I've always been very careful with my kids on that street. I always warned them to keep away from where the cars are."

If the Stock Exchange has to use trucks, they should at least move the pickups to New Street, an entrance to the secure zone that has less pedestrian traffic, said Linda Gerstman, a CB1 member who lives on Broad Street.

"Especially when school is in session, trucks should not be going back and forth [on Broad Street]," Gerstman said. "The security measures need to be in place to keep this neighborhood safe — they just need to be improved upon."

The city Economic Development Corp., which oversaw the installation of the turntables, declined to comment. The Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining the streets, did not respond to a request for comment.

T&M Protection Resources referred questions to the New York Stock Exchange, which declined to comment.

Community Board 1's Financial District Committee will discuss the accident and possible changes to the New York Stock Exchange security measures at a meeting Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709.

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