The city will reopen a portion of Park Row to cyclists and pedestrians in spring 2018, more than sixteen years after city officials blocked access to it in response to the 9/11 attacks, officials announced Thursday.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said work would begin this fall on a pedestrian area and bike path along half a mile of Park Row, which will connect Chinatown to other parts of lower Manhattan, including the Financial District.
The Park Row project will run from Worth Street to Frankfort Street. It will include 10,000 square feet of new pedestrian space and a two-way protected bike path, Trottenberg said at a news conference along Park Row and Worth Street where she was joined by elected officials and business leaders who had been pushing for the street to reopen.
“After 16 years of closure, New Yorkers and tourists will now have new options to get from Chinatown to lower Manhattan, the South Street Seaport and the Financial District,” Trottenberg said, standing alongside Rep. Nydia Velázquez, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Assemb. Yuh-Line Niou, all Democrats who represent the area.
The 9/11 attacks prompted the city to close a portion of Park Row that runs past NYPD headquarters and other federal government buildings deemed to be high-risk targets for terrorists attacks.
The safety considerations of the area are part of the reason the road will still remain off-limits to vehicles, Trottenberg said, adding that the city will continue to explore the possibility of reopening the road completely.
“There are challenges balancing access with security,” she said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill in a statement said the current bike and pedestrian plan “addresses both security concerns in the area as well as the convenience of this important public thoroughfare.”
For years, business owners in Chinatown have called on the city to reopen Park Row, complaining that their storefronts were struggling to regain the foot traffic they saw before the street closure.
On Thursday, a coalition of business groups celebrated the Park Row project, saying they hoped it would generate more interest in the area.
“Park Row remains an important artery for our community,” said Wellington Z. Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, a nonprofit economic development group.