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BY JOSH ROGERS | The long-awaited opening of the 9/11 Museum this month will bring added benefits like opening up some of the World Trade Center to the public, but one vexing problem — the crush of commuters jammed into narrow Vesey St. — is likely to continue for at least another five months.
The daily battle where W.T.C. PATH commuters fight for space with subway riders heading to the PATH, Battery Park City or the Financial District, might best be called the “Vesey Squeezy,” although Mariana De Lorenzo had a different description.
“It’s a disaster,” De Lorenzo, 42, a reverse commuter, said as she tried to make her way to the PATH during the morning rush hour this week.
De Lorenzo, an assistant professor at the State University of New Jersey, said she has been complaining for three years about the problem, which might be getting worse as more things open around the W.T.C.
Even though Linda Moore, 58, another reverse commuter, was limping along against the crowds after having worked the graveyard shift at Lennox Hill Hospital, she took the rush in better stride than De Lorenzo as she continued back home to New Jersey.
“Is it always jammed, yes, but New York is a beautiful something,” she said with a chuckle that sounded genuine.
PATH commuters and Battery Park City residents walking through the squeeze, still face the pedestrian chains on Church St. needed to keep people from being pushed into traffic.
The crush has not escaped the notice of community leaders.
At a Community Board 1 meeting last month, Catherine McVay Hughes, the chairperson, pressed Port Authority officials to budge the Vesey St. construction fence literally an inch.
“We’ve had the frozen zone for almost 13 years so every inch we can get, that we can reclaim, is significant,” she said.
On the other side of the fence is a relatively clear area, that Hughes says the Port needs to “tidy up” to make more room — perhaps as much as 20 feet for pedestrians.
The Port’s Glenn Guzi said last month that “We want to [move the Vesey fence] as soon as possible because that enables us to do a lot of work.”
He said he hoped it could be done by the early fall, but he later pointed out the difficult hurdles that need to be cleared to make it happen.
The current PATH entrance is classified as temporary, and part of that will have to be taken apart soon to allow Greenwich St. to run through the site and into the squeezed area. In addition, underground work for the Performing Arts Center near Vesey will also have to be done.
Port officials did not respond to requests for comment this week on Vesey.
Board 1 passed a resolution last week requesting the fence be moved as much as possible.
Hughes said this week she hasn’t heard about any progress on that front, but things appear to be moving fast on a different C.B. 1 request — a return of the W.T.C. Greenmarket, which Hughes hopes could be as soon as June.
When the 9/11 Museum opens to the public May 21, it will allow some of the W.T.C. fences to come down, and eliminate the need for tickets to the free 9/11 Memorial. The Greenmarket has had sporadic spots near the W.T.C. since 9/11, and the community board is now asking for it to return to the ticketing area.
The museum opening will also allow people to walk through the south end of the site, adding another connection between Battery Park City and FiDi, as Downtown Express reported two weeks ago.
A police officer securing the area said this week the southern walkway is supposed to open May 15, the same day the museum opens for invited guest previews.