By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — A group of lower Manhattan elected officials penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation last week asking for federal assistance in trying to reopen Chinatown's Park Row, which has been closed to traffic since 9/11 for security reasons.
The note — signed by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — urged the agency to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security to assess the street's safety nearly nine years after its closure.
Park Row — a section of road that runs between Chatham Square and City Hall — was closed to through traffic after 9/11 due to its proximity to police headquarters.
Advocates pushing for the street’s reopening, who discussed the issue with U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood at meeting in Chinatown last month, have cited the inconveniences posed by the stretch’s closure, including the negative impact on area businesses and the fact that residents have to show identification when traveling to and from their homes.
“While so many other streets that were closed after 9/11 have since reopened — including those around the federal courthouse in Manhattan, and even those surrounding the White House and the U.S. Capitol in Washington — this key roadway has been an unfortunate exception,” the letter stated.
“We believe it would be enormously helpful if the Department of Homeland Security could conduct a risk assessment to help us determine how this street could be safely reopened."
At the May meeting, LaHood pledged to reach out to DHS to request the agency’s involvement in the matter, noting, “That’s the least they can do.”
Any analysis of Park Row would have to involve the cooperation of the NYPD, which handles security along the stretch leading to One Police Plaza, said a staffer for Nadler’s office.
“We’d have to make sure that the report would be something that NYPD could rely on, something that they could trust,” said Robert Gottheim, the congressman's district director.
“It’s our belief that you can have this road open and you can take the proper precautions to have this road open,” he added.
A spokesperson for the U.S. DOT said on Tuesday the department had no information regarding communication with Homeland Security.
The NYPD did not immediately return a request for comment.