NEW YORK - Making their appeal to the community board Thursday, some Battery Park City residents are banding together to save the Rector Street bridge before it meets the wrecking ball.
"Once that bridge comes down most people will be crossing the West Side Highway at the street level and there are a lot of children in the neighborhood and that poses a huge safety issue," said one neighborhood resident.
The Rector Street pedestrian bridge was built as a temporary span to connect the neighborhood to the Financial District after the September 11th attacks. The city is now nearing completion on its permanent replacement, the West Thames Bridge. Officials say it's a $40 million project designed to last 75 years. But some say the Rector Street bridge has become an integral part of life.
"Here we are 17 years later and people are still crossing it everyday, and it gets a very heavy commuter stream everyday," said Bob Schneck, a Rector Street bridge advocate.
"The bridge itself is near the base of my building and I use it each and everyday to go back and forth to work," said Domenic Turziano, a Rector Street bridge advocate.
Turziano is vision impaired and fears trying to get across the six lanes of West Street without the Rector Street bridge.
"It also takes away independence on behalf of the handicapped and elderly communities," Turziano added.
But officials from the city's Economic Development Corporation say the Rector Street crossing is not fully compliant with the American Disabilities Act. A statement says, "That permanent, ADA-accessible bridge is now open one block south at West Thames Street, allowing for safe crossing."
Schneck says he has collected nearly 2,000 signatures from residents who say they know what works for their neighborhood.
"If people are saying now they want this then they want it and by God we pay just about the highest taxes and its documented that we pay damn near the highest rent in the city here, so you just go wait a second," Schneck said.
City officials point out that the Rector Street bridge was never meant to be permanent and has design flaws that make its design a poor choice for a permanent structure. They also note the community board approved a resolution to demolish the Rector Street bridge back in 2015.