Feature article in The Downtown Express
By Julie Shapiro
The Port Authority scrapped its plan to use Pier 42 for a staging area for World Trade Center construction after an outcry from local residents and elected officials.
The Port Authority wanted to use the Lower East Side pier to store steel beams for the PATH transportation hub starting early next year. Getting the beams to the World Trade Center site would have required about 60 truck trips a day through Lower Manhattan’s already-crowded streets.
“It was going to be a tremendous burden on the residents,” said Dominic Pisciotta, Community Board 3 chairperson.
Especially on top of the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge reconstruction and the many tour and commuter buses Downtown, the extra trucks would have been both a nuisance and a hazard, Pisciotta said.
“We were extremely concerned,” said Susan Stetzer, district manager of C.B. 3. “It was more loss of access to the waterfront. It was more trucks going all the way through from one side of Manhattan to the other. It was beyond a tipping point.”
Stetzer found out about the authority’s plan from another government agency in August and got local elected officials involved, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Sen, Daniel Squadron.
As a result of the pressure from the electeds and C.B. 3, the Port Authority announced last Thursday that it would not use Pier 42 for the steel. Instead, contractor DCM Erectors, based in South Plainfield, N.J., will bring the steel from New Jersey to the Trade Center site on an as-needed basis, traveling over the George Washington Bridge and down the West Side Highway at off-peak times. DCM will deliver more than 22,000 tons of steel to the site for below-ground work on the transit hub over the next couple years.
The new delivery method will be more efficient than using Pier 42, added Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesperson. The authority is also saving the money it would have paid to rent the pier from the city.
Squadron said it was “double good news” that the Port Authority listened to the community and upgraded its logistics plan at the same time.
Squadron and others had also been concerned that the Port Authority’s takeover of Pier 42 would prevent the pier from ever being turned into a community amenity. Under the city’s East River Waterfront plan, the unattractive, shed-covered, former working pier could someday become an urban beach, though the project lacks funding or a timeline. Squadron said it would be even harder to get funding for the beach if the Port Authority was using the pier.
And, given the World Trade Center site’s history of delays, several people also worried that once the authority got a hold of Pier 42, the agency would not quickly relinquish it.
“If they’re parked there till the World Trade Center is done…” Squadron trailed off.