Daily News (New York)
February 10, 2009 Tuesday
SPORTS FINAL EDITION
CITY CARVING PLAN TO RECONFIGURE CHATHAM SQUARE
BYLINE: BY FRANK LOMBARDI DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
SECTION: SUBURBAN; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 415 words
WITH NINE streets converging into it, crossing Chatham Square in Chinatown by car or on foot is a daunting task.
City officials told a City Council hearing last week that there have been 22 serious accidents in Chatham Square over the past two years, "despite the near-constant presence of NYPD traffic enforcement agents."
Now the city is on the verge of launching an ambitious $50 million plan to improve the traffic flow by reconfiguring Chatham Square and its maze of streets.
The plan - to be largely paid for with federal funds channeled through the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. - also calls for creating a landscaped Chatham Square public plaza of nearly 27,000 square feet, along with a landscaped promenade for pedestrians and bicyclists from Chatham Square to south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The surrounding area is dotted with government buildings, including Police Headquarters, state and federal courts and a federal correction center.
The Chatham Square project includes a major upgrade of the various security barriers and infrastructure installed on some surrounding streets after 9/11.
Bids for the street reconfiguration are expected to go out in the next two weeks. Construction would begin this summer and take nearly three years to complete.
Work on the open space and pedestrian promenade is expected to start in 2010.
City officials tout the project as a boon for Chinatown residents and businesses, but many in the community are leery of the project - if not opposed.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who represents the area, said he's "outraged" about the plan.
Councilman Alan Gerson (D-Manhattan), who also represents the area, said "the plan does not work for the community," and called for delaying it to allow for more community input.
Other critics say the reconfiguration will cause four years of construction disruptions that will further damage Chinatown's tourist-oriented businesses and, perhaps, make the intersection even worse.
"The reconfiguration will be a painful and costly endeavor that most likely will not improve the situation, and could possibly lead to worse conditions than exist now," said Danny Chen, co-founder of the Civic Center Residents Coalition.
The critics contend the major cause of Chatham Square's traffic woes is the fact that Park Row - its major access road to the financial district - has been closed to general traffic ever since 9/11.
Since 2005, it's been open only to MTA buses and pedestrians.
Post a Comment