Volume 17, Number 47 | April 15 — 21, 2005

View of Park Row plaza with bus lanes on the right.

Park Row buses likely to return next month

By Josh Rogers

Park Row, the closed-off street that used to connect Chinatown to the rest of Lower Manhattan, is likely to be reopened for city buses in a month, city sources said.

Paul J. Browne, the police’s deputy commissioner of public information, confirmed statements made by officials with the City Planning Dept., the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the corporation’s consultants that there would likely be an agreement to reopen the street for buses. “I’d say that’s an accurate characterization,” Browne told Downtown Express.

One city official, requesting anonymity, said the four bus routes would reopen within a month.

Chinatown residents have filed several lawsuits against the city to reopen the street that runs near One Police Plaza and which has been closed because of post-9/11 security concerns.

“That would be wonderful news if we would be able to get access to the buses,” said Jeanie Chin, a Chatham Towers resident and a plaintiff. “They’ve been pushing them further and further away from Chinatown because of the congestion [caused by the street closure].”

The portion of the street near Police Plaza has been closed to most vehicles since Sept. 11, 2001 and Chin said a bad situation got considerably worse in May 2002 when the bus routes were rerouted away from the street.

The L.M.D.C. is considering spending $20 million — $27 million for Chinatown traffic improvements including creating a park plaza on some of Park Row. The plan, which was released several months ago and recently revised, always allowed for the possible reopening of part of the street to vehicles, if the N.Y.P.D. agreed to change.

At a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night presenting the Chinatown plan, officials said they thought bus traffic would return.

“We believe the city will approve the use of buses,” said Vern Bergelin of Parsons Brinckerhoff, which prepared the L.M.D.C.’s Chinatown report.

City Planning’s Michael Samuelian, who has worked on the city’s proposal to improve the East River waterfront (another potential L.M.D.C. project), said “We are very pleased with the L.M.D.C.’s work on Park Row,” referring to the idea of bring busses back. “We are currently working with the N.Y.P.D. to make sure this is a viable security proposal.”

Members of Community Board 1, which includes the south side of Park Row, were pleased to hear the news although one member had a different suggestion.

“Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to move Police Plaza to Randall’s Island or Governors Island?” asked Arthur Gregory.


Josh@DowntownExpress.com

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