Planned WTC checkpoints worry residents

A view of the south pool waterfall with

A view of the south pool waterfall with the Freedom Tower in the background at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. (Aug. 4, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

People who live and work in lower Manhattan expressed concerns Wednesday over a proposal that would erect traffic-stifling checkpoints, metal bollards and other security measures to fortify the World Trade Center area against a terrorist attack.

The NYPD's anti-terrorism plan, which was discussed at the department's public meeting, is designed to thwart attacks such as car-bomb explosions, but it would also shut traffic on perimeter streets of the 16-acre site, which made some residents uneasy.

"This neighborhood is the fastest growing residential neighborhood with small business and we want to make sure that the area is accessible," said Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, at the hearing at an office building on Reade Street.

Deputy Commissioner Richard Daddario of the Counterterrorism Bureau told the group that only cars and trucks that were screened and credentialed by the NYPD would be allowed on site through an underground garage and roadway system.

"Tour buses will also have to be scheduled," Daddario said.

The checkpoints are slated to be installed at Washington Street between Barclay and Vesey streets; West Broadway between Barclay and Vesey; Trinity Place and Liberty Street; and Liberty and West streets, which would abut the Sept. 11 memorial and the Trade Center Vehicle Security Center -- the underground garage.

The proposal also includes installing bollards -- underground barriers that can be activated automatically to stop traffic -- as well as a phalanx of hundreds of police officers and cameras. The proposed locations of the bollards have not been disclosed.

The NYPD plan is expected to be finalized and implemented by 2013.

The public comments are being gathered for the plan's environmental impact study. Community Board 1 has asked to help with the plan to prevent the area from becoming "a frozen zone," Menin said.

Menin said the checkpoints will cause traffic backups that will create idling vehicles that will pollute the air and impact local businesses. She also noted that Greenwich Street, under the plan, will stay closed to traffic.

Also commenting was yellow taxi driver Mohan Singh of Queens, who said traffic checks in the WTC neighborhood already slow drivers -- which means fewer cab fares.

"The police already stop us too much and this new plan will make us lose more time for our business," he said.

Also, Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said taxis would not be able to pick up fares at several hotels that surround Ground Zero.

Daddario said cab stands would be set up.

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