Spring Thaw is Only Solution to Ice Falling From WTC, Officials Say
MANHATTAN — Authorities in charge of 1 World Trade Center have a solution to the falling ice and snow that shut down the West Side Highway for seven hours on Wednesday — it's called spring.
Officials said until the unfinished, unheated upper floors of the 1,776-foot skyscraper are completed this summer, there's nothing they can do to prevent thick slabs of ice from building up during winter storms, and shooting down to the ground below when they thaw.
"There is no solution for ice falling from a building," Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization, which built 1 WTC, said Wednesday. "The building is not fully enclosed. It's not fully heated. When the building is completed, this won't happen."
The Port Authority, which is developing the tower with Durst, added that it was unaware of any problems with falling ice on Wednesday — the same day that police shut down all lanes of the West Side Highway between Murray Street and the Battery Park Tunnel between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The walkways around 1 WTC were also closed to pedestrians because of reports of falling ice.
"To my knowledge, I have not received any official report that ice fell," PA spokesman Anthony Hayes said.
The ice also prompted officials at the 9/11 Memorial to temporarily close off the northern reflecting pool.
Those who live and work in the area said Thursday that the Port Authority and Durst Organization's solution to 1 WTC's falling ice problem is unacceptable.
"It's ridiculous, it's dangerous," said Debbie Gambino, 56, a Downtown office manager who lives on Staten Island. "I just hope no one ends up getting hurt."
"It's kind of crazy with all the technology we have, they can't do anything about this," said Morris Wright, 59, a union worker from The Bronx. "It's gonna start melting even more. You don't want to walk down the street and have ice fall on you."
The Port Authority built sheds over the World Trade Center PATH train entrance to protect commuters after ice fell from the building earlier this month. The Port Authority also monitors ice buildup on the tower and tries to remove it before it falls, a spokesman said. In addition, the agency redirects pedestrian traffic near the base of the skyscraper when necessary, the spokesman said.
"We had to go underground during lunch today," Haydee Santiago, 61, who works across the street from the building, said Wednesday. "I guess they didn't expect the snow to be so rough this year."
Catherine McVay Hughes, Community Board 1 chairwoman, said that the board passed a resolution Wednesday night asking the Buildings Department to address the issue.
"With increasing extreme climate change events which includes the recent intense snow storms and freezing temperatures, it is necessary for the NYC Department of Buildings, working with stakeholders, to develop the best practices for handling falling ice and snow from skyscrapers," McVay Hughes said.
Additional reporting contributed by Trevor Kapp and Gustavo Solis