June 11, By Christian Murray
With 50,000 people expected to come to Long Island City to celebrate the July 4th fireworks, the police are putting together a comprehensive plan to deal with transportation issues and security threats.
The police are faced with several challenges that night, such as preparing for thousands of 7 train riders coming to the neighborhood all at once; contending with traffic congestion in the area; and keeping people safe from the unlikely threat of terrorism.
“It’s going to be a huge undertaking with the twist that Hunters Point South Park is not going to be open,” Captain John Travaglia, the commanding officer of the 108 police precinct. “Everyone will be directed to Gantry Plaza State Park.”
The first major obstacle is transportation.
Travaglia said that he is working with transit police to streamline 7 train service that evening.
“There are going to be a lot of people getting there by the No. 7 train [over a few hours] but they will all be leaving about the same time.”
Furthermore, he said, the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue train station is not large.
Travaglia said the plan is to ensure that the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave station has been cleared of riders by the time the fireworks end. He said the MTA is likely to skip the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave station between 9:00pm and 9:50pm.
The fireworks are expected to start at 9:22pm and conclude at 9:50pm.
Once the event is over, Travaglia said that extra trains will be added to help people move out. However, he urges people to consider taking the train from the Hunters Point Ave. station or even commuting via the LIRR.
The East River Ferry cannot be relied upon either on the night. It will be down during the fireworks and then the Coast Guard will have to provide clearance for service to resume.
Travaglia said the police will cordon off much of the Hunters Point area for the event. All vehicles will be required to move out of the neighborhood between Newtown Creek and 44th Drive–from Vernon Blvd to the East River. Residents who park their cars on these streets will have to move them.
That section of Hunters Point will then be closed off to traffic at 1 pm and is likely to reopen at 11pm.
For those people who plan to drive to the event, Travaglia said that they will have to park east of Jackson Avenue and 21st Street.
However, he warns that after the event, traffic is likely to backed up and the BQE, the 59th Bridge and other major thoroughfares will come to a standstill where no one will be able to move.
A large police presence will be at the event, Travaglia said, including a counter terrorism unit. He said that the bomb squad will be there as well as a canine team.
Travaglia said that people’s bags will be checked as they go into the park. Furthermore, as per park rules, alcohol is prohibited.