West Street Crosswalk, Closed for Years, Restored at Vesey

Pedestrians cross West Street at Vesey Thursday afternoon, the first full day that the crosswalk has been opened since 2008. The pedestrian bridge across the street is expected to be dismantled soon. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Oct. 03, 2013

For the first time in five years, pedestrians have their crosswalk back at Vesey and West Streets.

The crosswalk, on the north side of Vesey Street and adjacent to the World Trade Center site, opened Wednesday afternoon with six crossing guards and a traffic agent assigned to the busy highway crossing.

"A lot of people are excited,” Raul Wagner, a pedestrian manager assigned to the intersection, told the Trib Thursday afternoon. “They say, 'This is awesome. I've been climbing those stairs for years.’ They say they hate it."

That bridge was closed on Monday, Oct. 7, in preparation for its dismantling.

Pedestrians have had to climb stairs—or take an elevator that was sometimes out of service—to access a temporary footbridge above West Street that the state built in 2003. The bridge, which has connected the north side of Vesey with the World Financial Center (now called Brookfield Place), provided a northern link between the Financial District and Battery Park City.

Some impatient pedestrians, Wagner said, have complained about the longer-than-usual wait—a minute and seven seconds—to cross the street. “It's kind of like a long light—they're used to 30 seconds or 45 seconds,” he said. “But it saves you the trouble of climbing up and climbing down. "

With the support of his West Street Task Force, formed in early 2010, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver lobbied for the restoration of the crossing, with pedestrian managers—most recently after Hurricane Sandy knocked out elevator service at the footbridge.

“The lack of elevator service makes this crossing, which is crucial to those who live and work in Battery Park City, inconvenient at best and virtually impossible for those who are disabled or elderly,” Silver wrote city DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in January.

In 2011, the city DOT denied Silver’s request to reopen the crossing, saying at the time that limited visibility at the intersection due to World Trade Center construction fencing could endanger pedestrians. The agency also feared that the crossing could hinder the delivery of materials to the nearby 1 World Trade Center. 

— with reporting by Carl Glassman

NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the crossing had been closed continuously since Sept. 11, 2001.