Nosy Neighbor: Will the World Trade Center Streets Ever Reopen to Cars?

Greenwich StreetThe new World Trade Center site was originally planned with the idea that FiDi and Battery Park City would eventually be connected to the rest of Manhattan because Greenwich Street [above] and Fulton, Vesey, and Liberty streets [below] would once again be “through” streets allowing traffic for the first time since the original WTC was constructed. I understand that in the age of terrorism, those streets have been blocked off to all but foot traffic, but the streets themselves are still there. Is there a contingency plan somewhere stating that—someday—those connecting streets will once again be open to vehicle traffic? —N.

It’s impossible to say what will happen many years from now, but for the foreseeable future, the World Trade Center will remain a vehicle-free zone. From a rep at the Port Authority: “The streets of the World Trade Center campus are all managed streets with controlled access. There is no intention to ever re-open the streets to public vehicle traffic. The NYPD did a study looking at this issue and came to that conclusion.”

The only likely way that could change is if property owners south of the World Trade Center buy acquire enough political leverage to persuade the NYPD to be more creative. Because the harder it is for people to reach that area, the less the real estate is worth.

Got a question? Email tribecacitizen@gmail.com.

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8 Comments

  1. Such a shame. Another wasted opportunity at the new Trade Center. They should have just rebuilt the super-block in its entirety. That’s essentially what they did anyway, only now we can’t access Liberty St. or Vesey around the complex anymore.

    • I’m glad Greenwich will stay sleepy, but agree, the grid is where it’s at. It think there will be more TK on this issue…

  2. I’m not quite sure I understand the premise that this area “hard” to reach. How many people going to any WTC complex are using personal autos? I’d wager the vast majority are taking public transit and then walking to the complex. Opening up these streets to cars would actually make it harder for people to access these buildings as you are now taking away pedestrian real estate for cars. This would mean more crowded sidewalks, which of course, is going to slow people down.

    Further Pam, are you sure that open streets are more lucrative to developers than pedestrianized plazas? We all know that Times Square is a ghost town for commercial real estate since those dang plazas and bike paths went up! While not an answer for ever commercial district, pedestrianized areas for places like FiDi, Midtown, and other dense areas are usually a welcome reprieve from exhaust spewing vehicles.

  3. “Because the harder it is for people to reach that area, the less the real estate is worth.”

    Interesting. I would think there are competing factors, which in my naivete seem they might increase value….I would actually love to live on a vehicle-free street, for the peace and quiet from car horns and sirens and badly-maintained (or intentionally noisy) engines and bombastic car stereos and squealing brakes, absence of exhaust fumes, etc. I’ve seen various cities (e.g. London) make many areas pedestrian-only, often the historic areas, and it’s wonderful. (I guess they have access times for delivery and maintenance vehicles and such in those cities) I wish NYC would have more of that; the pedestrian plazas around Times Square are testament to the idea.

    Of course, I am thinking from a primarily residential viewpoint, while I assume all the streets in question are primarily occupied by commercial buildings?

  4. Have you ever been to this area? Theres no problem getting around on foot right now. Cars would just block everything up on top of the risks with terrorism. I dont understand why you’re complaining basically

  5. Surprise, surprise. As a 9/11 family member and activist involved in the rebuilding of the site I called again and again, in personal meetings with the LMDC and in writings for the Downtown Express, for exactly this: keep the site free of traffic. While, in reaction to the attacks, the rest of NYC was installing huge cement planters and otherwise closing off broad areas, driveways and streets adjacent and near buildings to traffic, at the WTC, the genius planners, in response to some silly notion about “restoring the street grid” decided to reopen streets. Shockingly, this has proven to be a waste of time, effort and lots and lots of money.

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