Committee looks for ramp location that’s not too bad

By Ronda Kaysen

In light of the 160 tour buses expected to carry thousands of visitors into the World Trade Center’s reflecting pool memorial each day, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. unveiled three entrance ramp options on Sept. 13 to Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee for review. Among the three problematic options, committee members selected a favored plan: option B — one that is fairly convenient for traffic and unfavorable for pedestrians.

Option B places the entrance and exit ramp — which will funnel delivery trucks, tour buses and cars in and out of the underground World Trade Center parking garage — along the south side of Liberty St., opposite the memorial and beneath the proposed Liberty Park. Liberty Park will be elevated to accommodate the ramp and pedestrian foot traffic along the south side of Liberty St. will be somewhat unwieldy.

The best plan for pedestrians — option C — places the ramp off of West St., north of Cedar St. W.T.C-bound traffic will travel underneath Liberty Park, as in option B, but at a less significant grade. The main drawback for the third alternative is vehicular traffic. U-turns along West St. will increase traffic congestion and backup. According to the L.M.D.C., Option C is the best plan for Liberty Park.

“The Option C alternative gives you a better opportunity to design Liberty Park and make it a better park for the neighborhood,” said Steven Weber of New York City Department of Transportation.

Julie Menin, the committee’s co-chairperson, views the park’s limitations differently. “I don’t know that we have to make that trade off,” she said. “The parks are the same size; it’s just a question of the slope.” Menin was on the jury that selected the W.T.C. memorial design for the other side of Liberty St.

Indeed the only option that does not create an elevated park is the first option, which has a worrisome drawback of its own: it transforms the block of Liberty St. between Greenwich and West Sts. into a one-way street.

Both options B and C keep Liberty St. open to two-way traffic — a component of the design that satisfied many committee members and transit officials. Option A, on the other hand, transforms Liberty St. into a one-way east-bound street and places the ramp on the north side of the street — allowing Liberty Park to remain at-grade — but creating a memorial that would be approximately three to eight feet higher than the street. With a limited number of two-way crossings in the neighborhood, committee members were anxious not to lose one of the few westbound options.

Weber of D.O.T., echoing the sentiment of transit officials, agreed with the committee. “What we’re seeing is a lot of streets pointing east, towards Broadway and Church,” he said, “and we think that’s a problem.”

Some committee members were less convinced. “As important as two-way street access is, pedestrian access is important,” said Barry Skolnick, a Battery park City resident. “[Option B] creates an unwieldy situation. It’s an accident waiting to happen, it’s an obstacle course.” Skolnick abstained from voting for option B.

Committee member Jennifer Hensley argued that pedestrian maneuverability could be rectified. “People’s traffic patterns will totally change,” she said. “You’re not just adding a new route, you’re totally changing the whole area and people will adapt.”

Several committee members agreed to support option B providing that the pedestrian obstacles were remedied.

Pat Moore, a committee member and Cedar St. resident, was disappointed with the outcome. “All three plans are horrible,” she said. Of the three options, Moore supports placing the entrance along West St. “The West Side Highway is a highway, use it as a highway,” she said. She, too, abstained from the vote of support for option B.

The committee will present a resolution at the Sept. 21 full board meeting at Seaman’s Church Institute, 241 Water St., sometime after 6 p.m. According to committee chairperson Richard Kennedy, option B “is clearly the best option we have” and the board plans to support it with comments for the L.M.D.C.

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Ramp Options

Option A

Entrance/Exit ramp on north side of Liberty St., adjacent to W.T.C. memorial site. Liberty St., between Greenwich and West Sts. will be a one-way, eastbound street. Liberty Park will be unaffected. Officials say vehicular traffic congestion will affect the Liberty St./West St. intersection, and westbound traffic will lose an important avenue. Pedestrian traffic along the north side of Liberty St., near the ramp, will be impacted.

Option B – Favored Option of C.B. 1 committee

Entrance/Exit ramp on south side of Liberty St., below Liberty Park. Liberty Park will be elevated to accommodate ramp traffic. Liberty St. will remain a two-way street, improving vehicular traffic. Pedestrian traffic along the south side of Liberty St., near the ramp and Liberty Park, will be impacted.

Option C

Entrance/Exit ramp on West St./9A north of Cedar St and below Liberty Park. Liberty Park will be elevated to accommodate ramp traffic. Liberty St. will remain a two-way street, but U-turns made on West St./9A will cause an increase on vehicular traffic. Considered the best option for pedestrians and Liberty Park, although Battery Park City residents may be impacted, according to officials. .

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