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Taxis and Delivery Trucks Get Locked Down Under WTC Security Plan

By Julie Shapiro | March 13, 2012 3:43pm | Updated on March 13, 2012 3:53pm
The World Trade Center site, shown in January 2012, will be subject to an extensive security plan.
The World Trade Center site, shown in January 2012, will be subject to an extensive security plan.
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Facebook/WTC Progress

LOWER MANHATTAN — Cabs, delivery trucks and residents' cars heading toward the World Trade Center site will soon have to run a gauntlet of new security checkpoints, raising concerns about how small businesses will get deliveries and how residents will get home.

The NYPD's controversial new security plan for the World Trade Center will place stringent vehicle checkpoints and barricaded secure zones on all four sides of the complex, locking down several neighboring blocks lined with residential buildings and businesses beginning as soon as next year, police revealed.

Residents were in an uproar after learning of the NYPD's preliminary plans — unveiled at a Community Board 1 meeting Monday night — that will not only close off all the streets running through the World Trade Center site but will also close portions of Liberty Street, Vesey Street, Church Street, Washington Street, Greenwich Street and West Broadway.

"Am I going to have to go through security ever time I try to get home?" asked Mark Scherzer, 60, who has lived at 125 Cedar St. for 34 years and would now be partially in a secure zone.

"We didn't sign on to be part of the Trade Center campus," Scherzer added. "It's very concerning."

Vehicles looking to access the restricted areas will have to detour through one of four checkpoints and will have to submit to a security screening before being allowed inside, police said.

Lt. David Kelly, who works in the NYPD's counterterrorism bureau, told Community Board 1 that the security measures are necessary to protect the new World Trade Center towers from a truck bomb.

The four entry points include: Washington Street, between Barclay and Vesey streets, for 7 World Trade Center's loading docks; West Broadway, between Barclay and Vesey streets, for livery and private vehicles; Trinity Place, at Liberty Street, for tour buses; and West Street, at Liberty Street, for vehicles going underground to make deliveries or park, Kelly said.

At each entry point, vehicles will first pass through a credentialing zone, where drivers will have to show that they have legitimate business on the site, and then they will go through security screening, Kelly said.

While residents may be able to register their cars as trusted vehicles and circumvent some of the security, the NYPD has not yet determined the details, and it may be especially difficult for those who rely on cabs.

Kelly said the security would be more advanced than the measures now in place in areas like the New York Stock Exchange, where vehicles are checked with dogs and mirrors.

"We're hoping for a more efficient screening process," Kelly said, without elaborating.

Many residents who already weathered the 1993 and 2001 terror attacks, followed by the inconveniences of round-the-clock construction at the World Trade Center site, said the NYPD needs to take a closer look at the impact of the security plan on the community.

"I don't think anyone questions the need for security," said James Fernandez, a father of four who lives on Liberty Street between Church and Greenwich streets, which will become part of the secure zone.

"But it's fairly obvious that one of the things that has not been taken into account is the residents," Fernandez continued. "There's a vibrant community down here. It needs to be addressed. It's not nice being ignored."

Tom Goodkind, a longtime Battery Park City resident and CB1 member, suggested that rather than screening all the cars that want to enter the World Trade Center, the city should just bar them altogether and make it a fully pedestrianized space.

"If these vehicles cause such a threat, why not have them park outside the area and have people walk?" Goodkind asked. "I don't think you need limos going in day and night. You can have parking outside the perimeter and thereby eliminate the need for all of this."

The new security plan will also affect small business owners, especially when it comes to getting deliveries, said Doug Smith, owner of the World Trade Art Gallery on Trinity Place.

Smith said he already has trouble convincing delivery truck drivers to brave the traffic and security around the World Trade Center site, and he expects conditions to worsen once the NYPD installs a vehicle credentialing checkpoint near the entrance to his store.

"This is going to make it that much more difficult," Smith said of the plans, but he added that he did not blame the NYPD.

"It's unfortunate that we have to do it," Smith said, "but I think the NYPD is really responding to the [threat] environment. They're not creating the environment."

The NYPD, along with urban planning consultant Philip Habib & Associates, is launching a study on the impact of the security plan on the neighborhood's traffic, air quality, businesses and residents, Kelly said.

The city hopes to begin implementing the security measures at the end of 2013, as 1 World Trade Center and 4 World Trade Center are finished, but the final plan would not be put into place until 2019, when most of the site's projects are completed.

The NYPD will hold a public hearing on the plan March 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. at 22 Reade St. and will continue accepting public comments through March 26.

Using that feedback, the NYPD will prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement this fall describing the likely affects of the project and how to mitigate them. The NYPD will hold another hearing in December and hopes to finalize the EIS by early next year.

CB1's World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee unanimously passed a resolution Monday night urging the NYPD to take a closer look at the plan's impact on residents and to create a Citizens Advisory Committee to ensure that the community's concerns are addressed.