Tour buses to inundate lower Manhattan, a concern for residents

Where’s the planning?

Port Authority officials have had nearly a decade to plan for the millions of additional visitors expected to descend on Ground Zero starting next year, but with a year left before the opening of a victims’ memorial, the agency still has not chiseled out a plan to deal with the tour buses expected to jam the area’s narrow streets.

“It’s a major concern for us that we have not seen a plan for the buses,” Michael Levine, a Community Board 1 official, testified before the city council Tuesday.

As is, a city survey found that up to 80 tour buses descend on lower Manhattan each day, Levin said. This doesn’t include a whole network of MTA buses that also service the area.

"We have too many tour buses out here,” said an upset Levine. “We are concerned about the health, safety and security issues.”

Plans have been in the works for a victims’ tribute at Ground Zero since at least 2002. And once the memorial opens next year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, more than 2 million visitors are expected annually. Up to 7 million tourists may visit the museum once it opens in 2012, according to the foundation developing the site.

“There are families down here now, and I think the tourists will be just too much,” said a weary Jerry Marcus, 64, who lives in Battery Park City.

A Port Authority spokesman said they are working with officials from the city, state, the memorial and museum and New Jersey to come up “an appropriate plan to accommodate tour buses.” He did not say when it would be released.

Last year, city and Port Authority officials discussed creating tour bus parking areas in underutilized properties in Brooklyn, the Upper West Side and New Jersey, but no additional details have come forth, according to Levine.

“It doesn’t sound very customer-friendly,” said Robert Schwarz, executive vice president of Peter Pan Bus Lines.

Meanwhile, at least one group is giddy about the promise of crowds.

“More people are good for business,” said Jacob Marshak, manager of Boomerang Toys in the World Financial Center. “More people are good for business.”

Katherine Lieb contributed to this story.

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Here's a quick look at the $610 million World Trade Center Memorial and Museum.
 
Memorial:
- Slated to open on Sept. 11, 2011.
- Will feature memorial pools and bronze panels listing 2,982 victim names.
- Surrounding 8-acre park will have 400 trees.
 
Museum:
- Slated to open on Sept. 11, 2012.
- Will feature photos and artifacts from victim families and residents.
- It's 80,000 square-feet of exhibit space will be located 7-stories below ground.
Source: National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Tags: Sept. 11 , wtc , new york city , transit

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