Tourists who now wait in lengthy screening lines at the southern tip of Manhattan before boarding boats to the Statue of Liberty would instead get onboard and go through security on Ellis Island under a proposal being discussed by city and federal officials.
The plan would eliminate hourlong waits at Manhattan's Battery Park and at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, where passengers are shuttled to both Ellis Island and Liberty Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, visitors were screened only when they went inside the Statue of Liberty.
Tourists who only want to go to Ellis Island wouldn't be screened, said Michael Burke, the chief operating officer of Statue Cruises, which operates the ferries.
The plan also includes a building for security at Ellis Island, so visitors could avoid heat, rain or wind while they wait.
"Our boats will be secure, people will be safe and the people will have a better experience," Burke said.
The proposal is the latest example of making the monument more visitor-friendly since it closed to the public after 9/1 1. The statue's base reopened in 2004, but the observation deck at the top of Lady Liberty's crown remained closed until July 2009. It's scheduled to close again in the fall for emergency exit improvements.
Details of the plan were first reported in the New York Times, but it has been discussed for months.
In the years after the attacks, other plans to change security have been floated, including using a nearby pier to screen passengers, or land owned by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Burke said the boats would be subject to the same post- 9/1 1 security procedures that the Coast Guard imposes on the Staten Island ferries and commuter ferries around the harbor.