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Mayor Proposes Banning Vehicles From Times Square

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TWC News: Mayor Proposes Banning Vehicles From Times Square
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a pilot project Thursday that would close strips of Broadway in Midtown to vehicle traffic.

The plan will shut down Broadway to traffic at Times Square and Herald Square in favor of pedestrian plazas.

No cars will be allowed on Broadway from 42nd to 47th Street. Seventh Avenue would remain open to traffic.

Traffic would be permitted on Broadway south of 42nd Street – but it will be closed again from 33rd to 35th Streets.

Crosstown traffic will still be open in both areas.

The city says it could actually decrease congestion, since traffic tends to back up where Broadway intersects with avenues.

City officials also say that Times Square has about 137 percent more vehicular and pedestrian collisions than other Manhattan intersections.

"We expect both travel time and safety on these avenues and streets to improve," said Bloomberg, "and in some cases substantially, as a result of these changes."

"Consistently the number one thing that people complain about are gridlock - the traffic problems, ‘pedlock’ – the pedestrian crowding, and the dangerous conditions of literally thousands of people an hour standing in the bed of the street," said Tim Tomkins of Times Square Alliance.

Not surprisingly, pedestrians told NY1 they were supportive of the plan, but drivers were not too happy about it.

"I would hope more people would take advantage of walking if there were fewer cars getting in the way," said one pedestrian. "I walk early on purpose, for a reason, there are fewer cars; it's a lot easier."

"The only concern of mine is what is going to happen to the areas around if you shut down traffic here," said another. "For example, when you shut down streets for emergencies, you find other streets get backed up."

"I don't think it's the best idea at this time, because of the condition. The traffic is very stiff," said a driver. "No question about it, you need all the road you can get."

"We already suffer," said another.

Last summer, the city closed off two lanes of traffic on Broadway from 42nd to 35th Street, setting up bike lanes and creating plazas with tables and chairs.

The Times Square Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the area, and Macy's in Herald Square have reportedly already given the project a thumbs-up.

But Queens Councilman John Liu, the chairman of the city's transportation committee says the idea might not work because the volume of traffic stays the same.

"You're not actually taking cars away, just moving them," said Liu.

AAA says the only issue may be the Herald Square closures, because 34th Street serves as a major route for traffic to the Midtown Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel.

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