Port Authority Decides Church and Vesey Doesn’t Need Safety Specialists

Church and Vesey is one of the most crowded and busy intersections in the city. With about 15,000 people walking across Church during peak weekday hours, the foot traffic is heavier there than anywhere in Times Square. A recent decision by the Port Authority could jeopardize those pedestrians starting this Friday.

ped_managers.jpgIt ain’t pretty, but it works. Certified ped managers at the corner of Vesey and Church, which sees huge volumes of pedestrian traffic. Photo: Broadsheet Daily/Teresa Loeb Kreuzer

In a vote two weeks ago, the board opted to skimp on safety by hiring security firm Allied Barton to manage pedestrian movement at Church and Vesey. Security personnel with no formal training in pedestrian management will be replacing workers certified by the American Traffic Safety Services Association who’ve successfully kept people safe as construction near the World Trade Center site increases the potential for conflicts.

"With traffic down there only slated to increase with more intense construction, pedestrians will be put at unacceptable risk without certified ped managers there to stop traffic and shepherd folks," said Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White.

Currently, pedestrian managers with Sam Schwartz Engineering handle
the intersection, using yellow chains to stop people from crossing against the light. While this isn’t the type of traffic
control that we tend to get excited about here at Streetsblog, the
fact is that the pedestrian managers have a proven safety record. Since they started in 2008, 60 million people have crossed without incident, according to Schwartz.

Certified pedestrian managers receive training in how to handle different signal phases, coordinate movements of traffic and pedestrians, and deal with pedestrian behavior, Schwartz said. When the Battery Park City Authority was looking to staff intersections with crossing guards earlier this year, Schwartz said, they chose his firm because it offered the lowest qualified bid, with crossing guards all professionally certified. The Port Authority simply went with the lowest bidder, Allied Barton.

The Port Authority has not returned requests for comment on this story.