Last remnant of tower's facade being brought down at World Trade Center; photography banned at site

Wednesday, September 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Rudolph Giuliani detailed dramatic new traffic restrictions Wednesday, saying they had been suggested before the World Trade Center attack but would be added now because of security concerns.

Single-occupant passenger vehicles will be barred in Manhattan below 62nd Street between 6 a.m. and noon, the mayor said.

He said the measure will be tested beginning Thursday, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, because ``traffic will be lighter and we'll see how it works.'' The mayor did not say when the ban would end.

Giuliani said the restrictions were due in part to unspecified security concerns. He also said they may help reduce traffic jams that have snarled the city since the Sept. 11 attack.

The ban includes some of the busiest commuter pathways in the country, including the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey and four East River bridges linking between midtown Manhattan and the financial district to Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island. Two other tunnels near the disaster site, the Holland and Battery, remained closed Wednesday.

It wasn't immediately clear how the ban would be enforced, though police said there would be checkpoints at entrances to the island of Manhattan. It was also unclear whether offenders would be fined, ticketed or simply turned away.

The mayor said exceptions to the ban would be announced later.

Security in the city was increased Tuesday shortly before Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress that terrorists may be planning an attack using a truck carrying hazardous chemicals. Asked about reports that specific threats had been made against the city, Giuliani said: ``Sometimes they're credible, sometimes they're not.''

Meanwhile, the death toll from the attack rose by 13 people to 300 confirmed dead, 232 of them positively identified. The number of people missing remained at 6,347.

At a city center Wednesday, more than 70 lawyers began helping families apply for death certificates even though their loved ones' remains have not been found. The city and state have taken steps to make it easier for families to collect insurance benefits and workers' compensation, and gain access to bank accounts.

Some families also are receiving grants up to $30,000 from the American Red Cross to help with short-term expenses.

At the trade center ruins, crews continued to carefully dismantle one of the most striking symbols of the disaster, two jagged sections of steel facade up to 15 stories tall.

Some pieces were being preserved in case they are wanted for a memorial. The demolition was erratic because rescue crews are still looking for people in the ruins.

``It's real slow because whenever we find a body part, we've got to stop and let them come in and investigate further,'' said Wayne Fallon, a heavy equipment engineer.

The facade, part of the base of the center's southern tower, has been one of the most photographed scenes of the devastation.

Civilians hoping to take pictures of it from police barricades a few blocks away were warned that cameras and video equipment were forbidden and could be confiscated. Giuliani issued the order Tuesday, saying the site is a crime scene.

Police Officer Michael DiFrancisco, standing guard at a barricade, said the ban was also ``out of respect for the families and all those concerned.'' The ban did not apply to press photographers.

In mayoral primaries Tuesday, media mogul Michael Bloomberg defeated former Rep. Herman Badillo for the Republican nomination. Public Advocate Mark Green will face Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer in an Oct. 11 runoff to decide the Democratic candidate in the Nov. 6 general election.

Giuliani is barred by term limits from running for a third term.