Volume 80, Number 38 | February 17 - 24, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


The buses are coming

The clock is ticking for the involved parties to come up with an acceptable plan for how Lower Manhattan is supposed to accommodate a monumental influx of people and buses, not just for this year’s critical opening of the 9/11 Memorial, but for the next two years.

We are slightly more than 200 days away from the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the opening of the National September 11th Memorial. This is no small event. All of our agencies need to go into planning overdrive to make this opening a success.

The presentation given at Monday’s Community Board 1 W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee by the city’s Department of Transportation left much to be desired. We were told that the “working group” that had been meeting to come up with the solution to the immense problem that could result when several million people descend on Lower Manhattan, had not reached out to the local community board. This is unwise.

Last September Luis Sanchez, D.O.T. commissioner for Lower Manhattan, attended a Lower Manhattan Marketing Association meeting and said, “The D.O.T. is working with all interested parties to prepare for the expected influx of tourists and buses.” But apparently the community board that represents Lower Manhattan did not qualify as an interested party.

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is projected to bring an additional 80 to 90 tour buses each day to Lower Manhattan, as Sanchez estimated months ago. We believe that’s probably a low-ball figure. Since the Vehicle Security Center will not be finished until 2012 at the earliest, these buses could very well be parking anywhere. Sanchez’s presentation on Monday cited Greenwich St. as one area for pickups and drop-offs. We trust that Sanchez and his team have walked down Greenwich St. in Lower Manhattan. It’s one of the narrower avenues in the city and we question how many buses this street can actually accommodate.

Lower Manhattan is already plagued on a regular basis with idling tour buses that take up parking on almost every Downtown street. This is only going to get worse after 9/11/11 until the Vehicle Security Center is finally built — and D.O.T. needs a better interim solution.

This is why we can’t understand why the community has not been more involved in this process. D.O.T. needs to realize that there is enormous expertise from those that live and work Downtown, and D.O.T must ensure that, moving forward, all stakeholders are included and that their opinions are taken into consideration. This is how you build a plan that has legitimacy in the eyes of the community.

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