Friday, September 25, 2015

Here We Go Again, Intermittent Roosevelt Island Bridge Closings During Upcoming United Nations General Assembly - Will Emergency Vehicles Be Delayed Worries Roosevelt Island Resident - East River West Channel Closed To Boat Traffic

It's that time of year again for Roosevelt Island.  The opening of the 2015 United Nations General Assembly Session means the diversion of all East River boat traffic to the Roosevelt Island East Channel Queens side for security precautions due to our proximity to the United Nations resulting in the intermittent closings of the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
The NYC Department of Transportation Division of Bridges will be opening the Roosevelt Island Bridge on demand from 7 AM- 7 PM for marine traffic from Friday, September 25, 2015 to Friday, October 2, 2015 during the United Nations General Assembly. Each opening should take anywhere from 8-12 minutes to complete. Expect intermittent traffic disruptions and delays on Main Street and along the Roosevelt Island Bridge approach.

For more information, please contact the Division of Bridges/Community Affairs at (212) 839-3740.
The NYC Department of Transportation adds:
Please see the attached Important Notice announcing intermittent daytime full closures of the Roosevelt Island Bridge over the East Channel of the East River during the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly. From Friday, September 25, to Friday, October 2, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the West Channel of the East River will be closed to marine traffic; vessels will be diverted to the East Channel, between Roosevelt Island and Queens. The Roosevelt Island Bridge will therefore be intermittently closed to all vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic for up to 15 minutes at a time.

Coast Guard News reports:

East River security zone restrictions:

Zone 1: This zone is always in effect. No vessels within 175 yards of Manhattan between East 35th Street and the Queensboro/59th Street Bridge in the west channel of the East River. Commercial vessels must check in with the VTS New York (VTSNY) on VHF-FM Channel 12 prior to entering the west channel.

Zone 2: West Channel closure: Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 (7 a.m.- 7 p.m.). No commercial or recreational traffic in the west channel of the East River between East 35th Street and the Queensboro/59th Street Bridge. NYC DEP sludge vessels will not be allowed to transit without 24-hour advance coordination with the Sector New York Enforcement Division.

Zone 3: Full river closure: Sept. 25 and Sept. 28 (Times vary, see restriction/ closure times below) No commercial or recreational traffic in the East River between Eat 35th Street and the Queensboro/ 59th Street Bridge, except commercial passenger vessels on the east channel with the United States Coast Guard Patrol Commander (PATCOM) approval.

Roosevelt Island Bridge openings

1. Vessels that require opening of the Roosevelt Island Bridge must contact the bridge tender at least 15 minutes in advance by phone at, (718) 545-2092 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., or via VHF-FM Channel 13....
Roosevelt Island resident Raye Schwartz is concerned for the safety of Roosevelt Island residents due to the intermittent closings of the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

Roosevelt Island Bridge Raised To Let Sailboat Pass During 2010 UN Week Causing Ambulance To Wait

Ms. Schwartz writes:
For those of us on Roosevelt Island, the following transportation issues will impact heavily on over 13,000 people, not only during the Papal visit, but over this coming weekend and the following week for the UN General Assembly meeting.
  1. The bridge from Vernon Boulevard to Roosevelt Island is going to open and close frequently to let boats, including pleasure boats, pass on the east channel of the East River. While the bridge is opened, often for 15 or more minutes at a time, no cars, trucks, or emergency vehicles such as FDNY, police or Ambulances can get on or off the island, thus endangering the lives of everyone who lives or works here.
  2. MTA is suspending the F train one way for the entire weekend because of planned, non-emergency construction.
DOT blames the Coast Guard who blames Homeland Security who blames the FBI who blames...well you get the picture, I hope.

Seriously, this has to stop. For one thing, if you look at the map, you will notice that if someone who wants to do harm comes south in a boat in the east channel and has the right weapons, they could just as easily create havoc for the UN (or our power plants in the east channel and knock out power to the entire city)!

There should be absolutely no boat traffic whatsoever, except perhaps for fuel deliveries by barge to the power plants along Vernon Boulevard south of the Roosevelt Island Bridge, and if so, they should be done at night rather than during the day. Those deliveries should not cause the bridge to open unnecessarily.
  • Two years ago, for example, during the UN general assembly meeting, I was returning home from food shopping and as I approached the bridge, there was an ambulance ahead of me with its siren blasting, but the bridge master chose to ignore the ambulance and instead opened the bridge so the ambulance could not get through. We waited and waited until finally I saw a sailboat travel south down the channel, and that was more than the 15 minutes we anticipated. The person who needed that ambulance could have died because some selfish person decided that it was more fun to use his pleasure boat and nobody stopped him!
  • MTA should not interrupt subway service for construction during this period, since we are told that we must depend on mass transit...and yes, many people must travel for work and/or medical situations. You cannot tell us to use mass transit if it is shut down!
My thinking is that this is all for show while over 13,000 people are being endangered and inconvenienced. Therefore, please put your heads together with the Federal, City and State agencies to find a better solution to protect these dignitaries without endangering the lives or inconveniencing of so many of us.
During 2014 UN General Assembly Week, a sailboat crashed

Image From William S

into the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

UPDATE 8:30 PM - The Coast Guard is patrolling the East River by Roosevelt Island.