The city is going to be a fortress this weekend — especially downtown.
With the 9/11 anniversary drawing thousands of visitors and high-profile dignitaries, including the president, to lower Manhattan on Sunday, top cop Ray Kelly said Wednesday authorities are stepping up security around the city and taking every precaution to ensure the solemn occasion is protected from terrorism.
“We don’t presume that Ground Zero alone is a potential target. That would be short-sighted,” the police commissioner told law enforcement at a conference on terrorism.
Thousands of heavy-armed officers will be deployed around the World Trade Center site, from police divers inspecting piers to hostage negotiators to officers carrying radiation detectors and sniper rifles. Plain-clothes cops will also be on guard.
While there are no specific threats against New York, it was learned after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 could be an ideal opportunity for al-Qaida to strike again, Kelly said.
“We have to take precautions as if an actual plot were underway,” he added.
The NYPD is installing massive security measures:
•“Sky Watch” towers will be manned, license plate readers monitored and all manhole covers inspected and sealed.
•City landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, will see heightened security along with the subways. Other major events will have increased security Sunday, including the U.S. Open in Queens.
•A heavily guarded “frozen zone” is being created from West Street to Broadway and Murray to Albany streets.
•There will be several street closures in the area Saturday and Sunday, including northbound West Street from Battery Place to Murray Street and southbound West Street from Battery Place to Chambers Street. Church Street between Rector and Barclay streets will be closed 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
To help the police, the FBI will mobilize numerous specialized teams, including special agents, bomb technicians and SWAT and HAZMAT crews.
The MTA, meanwhile, plans to shut down the recently re-opened Cortland Street R station, which was damaged on 9/11, during the ceremony. Officials said other stations may be closed under the NYPD’s request.
Downtown buses may also be re-routed, depending on street closures and the route of President Barack Obama’s motorcade. The Port Authority said it will provide extra service to and from the World Trade Center before and after the event, but will suspend service between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Besides Obama, former President George W. Bush will attend the anniversary at the World Trade Center, joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki.
(With Marc Beja)