Volume 20 Issue 4 | June 15 - 21, 2007

A police barrier on Park Row accidentally opened under an extended, or articulated, bus Tuesday, injuring three.

Police barrier injures 3 in Chinatown

By Joe Orovic

Straphangers on the M101 got an unexpected lift on Tuesday morning. At 10:45 a.m., an extended bus approached the entrance of Chatham Green on Park Row when a broken police barrier hoisted the bus by its accordion-like center, according to Rich Scorce, a Chatham Green resident.

Two women and one man were taken to New York Downtown Hospital and treated for minor injuries, according to a Transit Authority spokesperson. The bus was replaced and service continued as usual.

“These things break often,” said a police officer manning the delta barriers, commonly known as “pop-up” barriers, the next day. “They usually don’t fix them until something happens,” he added, not specifying what exactly “something” meant.

Police cars are used in place of the broken barriers, Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul J. Browne wrote in an email to Downtown Express after hearing of the incident. “Accidents are infrequent,” he added.

But Chatham Green residents say it is not the first time the delta barriers have caused trouble. Since they were installed on the north side of Park Row in 2003, locals have been complaining about the barriers’ tendency to pop up at their own leisure. At least three Chatham Green residents have gotten an unwanted lift.

Elena Fong, a Chatham Green resident and board member, was driving home with her husband two years ago when the barrier suddenly lifted up under the passenger area of their car. The impact set off her air bag and injured her right arm. “It did quite a bit of damage,” said Fong. It cost $6,000 to repair her Honda CRV and she did not ask the city to pay her insurance deductible.

Danny Chen, another Chatham Green resident, said two years ago an officer accidentally lifted the barrier, jacking up his car with his wife in the driver’s seat. The damage to the car was minimal, but Chen was upset the police blamed his wife for the accident. “It said something like ‘driver error’ on the police report,” he said.

Fong and Chen both pointed to Chatham Green resident Mary Jackson, who had the poor luck of getting on the delta barriers’ bad side twice with the same car. “Makes you think there’s some devious scheme involved,” said Fong. Jackson did not return phone calls requesting an interview.

Chen has joined several lawsuits against the city in an effort to reopen Park Row to traffic. In 2005, the city reopened the street to city buses.

Residents are also angered by the addition of another pair of barriers 50 feet down Park Row, at the other end of Chatham Green’s area. According to Chen, the new barriers have rarely been used since their installation two years ago. “I’m not really sure what they’re there for,” he said. “They don’t belong where they are — in a residential area.” He added they’d be better used down the block on Pearl St. Or better yet, he suggests they should disappear altogether.

“It’s only a matter of time before it flips over a car and kills someone,” he said. He added that the barriers have been known to do just that at military installations.

After four years of living with possessed delta barriers, Chen says he’s learned to avoid getting bumped up by the barriers. “I try to maintain eye contact with the officer in the booth,” said Chen. He sometimes speeds up when crossing because the officer appears ready to push the button to lift the barrier. “You know what they say, it’s a jungle out there. You do what you can.”

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