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Downtown Residents Protest 9/11 Anniversary Street Closures

By Julie Shapiro | September 8, 2011 8:32am

LOWER MANHATTAN — More than a dozen streets will be shut down in lower Manhattan for this weekend's 9/11 anniversary commemoration, and residents are not happy.

Streets around the World Trade Center will begin closing Friday evening at midnight and some will remain closed through 5 a.m. Monday, disrupting vehicular and pedestrian traffic as well as public transportation. The Vesey and Liberty street pedestrian bridges will also be closed on Sunday, restricting access to Battery Park City.

"We can't use our streets," said Linda Belfer, chairwoman of Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee, upon learning of the closures at a meeting Tuesday night.

"They shouldn't throw the residents out of our neighborhood. It is an abomination."

The street closures are more extensive this year than they were on previous 9/11 anniversaries, partly because this year's ceremony will feature President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

Anne Fenton, assistant to Battery Park City Authority President Gayle Horwitz, said the street security plan this year came from the Secret Service and other federal agencies.

In a memo to Battery Park City residents, released Tuesday, the mayor's Community Affairs Unit suggested residents carry proof of their address at all times on Sept. 11. But it was unclear whether those with IDs would be able to bypass the traffic and pedestrian restrictions.

Tammy Meltzer, a Battery Park City resident, said she is frustrated by the annual inconvenience of the 9/11 anniversary.

"I'm tired of yelling at a policeman, [showing him] a driver's license that says I live here, and he says, 'I don't care,'" Meltzer said.

"It's unfair. I'm a taxpayer. Why does a politician from another part of the state or country [attending the 9/11 commemoration] have more rights in their private car than I have in mine?"

The street closures will start at midnight Friday evening with the shutdown of northbound West Street between Battery Place and Murray Street, which will not reopen until 5 a.m. Monday, the city said in the memo to residents.

Southbound West Street between Battery Place and Chambers Street will be closed from 5 a.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Church Street and Trinity Place between Rector and Barclay streets will be closed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, but Broadway will remain open throughout the anniversary events, the city said.

Other thoroughfares that will be closed to parking and traffic, and will have limited pedestrian access, from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday include parts of: Warren Street, Murray Street, Barclay Street, Park Place, Greenwich Street, West Broadway, Vesey Street, Fulton Street, Dey Street, Cortlandt Street, Liberty Street, Albany Street, Cedar Street, Thames Street, Carlisle Street, South End Avenue and Washington Street, the city said.

While the Vesey and Liberty street pedestrian bridges are closed on Sunday, pedestrians will have to cross West Street either to the north at Warren Street or to the south at Rector Street, the city said.

Public transit will also be disrupted, with the R train bypassing the Cortlandt Street station from Sunday morning through early afternoon and the World Trade Center PATH station shut down from about 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday. Before the PATH suspension, extra trains will run to the World Trade Center starting at 5 a.m. Sunday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority may also close all subway staircases on Church Street south of Murray Street from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, a spokeswoman said. Bus diversions will affect the M5, M20, M22, X1 and X10, the Port Authority said.

While the closures will inconvenience everyone, some residents said they were not surprised or upset.

"It's a great community 363 days of the year [but] the other couple of days it's a little police-state-ish," said Jeff Mihok, a CB1 member with three children. "It's part of living down here."

With reporting by Ben Fractenberg.