By Irene Plagianos DNAinfo
A new pedestrian plaza will open as soon as the end of the week across from the 9/11 Memorial to ease congestion in the highly trafficked area.
The city shut down a block of Washington Street between Albany and Carlisle Streets Wednesday and began work on the new Washington Street Plaza. The plaza was expected to open on Friday, “barring any construction setbacks from the weather,” a Downtown Alliance spokesman said.
The plaza will feature chairs, tables, greenery and a tourism kiosk, to give memorial visitors information about other Lower Manhattan destinations.
“We are hoping this will mitigate the traffic down there and make pedestrian flow much better,” Pauline Yu, a representative from the mayor’s community affairs office, said at a recent Community Board 1 meeting.
Construction on the plaza was supposed to begin in November, but it was delayed because of Hurricane Sandy, Department of Transportation officials said at the time.
Community Board 1 gave its stamp of approval to the new outdoor seating space when it was first announced last fall — partly in the hopes that it would improve pedestrian flow in the area — but some residents have raised concerns about closing car traffic on the block.
Patricia Moore, a CB1 member and Financial District resident who opposed the project, said at a recent board meeting that she worried the plaza would actually increase congestion in the area.
A block of nearby Thames Street was also recently closed to car traffic for the demolition of a building, to clear space for a new residential tower. Several other major construction projects are also in the works in the neighborhood.
“I just hope the plaza doesn’t make it worse down there,” Moore said last week.