Updated 11/30/2011 02:23 PM
Presidential Visit, Tree Lighting Contribute To Major Manhattan Gridlock
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New Yorkers are advised to take mass transit and not drive through Manhattan this afternoon, as the borough has a major gridlock alert due to President Barack Obama's visit and the upcoming lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Street closures begin in the area of Rockefeller Center around 4 p.m. They will affect West 48th to West 51st Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
The president is scheduled to arrive around 5 p.m. to attend three fundraisers in Manhattan.
Around that time, festivities kick off at Rockefeller Center, including performances from singer-songwriter Cee Lo Green and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
The 74-foot Norway Spruce's five miles of energy-efficient LED lights will be switched on shortly before 9 p.m. The tree will remain lit throughout the holiday season and into the first week of the new year.
Meanwhile, as the president's motorcade comes through, drivers can expect several areas to be periodically frozen and barred to all traffic.
Those areas include the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive below 63rd Street, all avenues east of Seventh Avenue and all streets from roughly 34th to 79th Streets.
Lynn Troutman, who has been driving to and from the city for 20 years, said every year he steels himself with some extra planning on each big tree-lighting day.
"It used to be worse because they lit it at 5 [o'clock]. Now they light it and make a show of it, so it's later, but they still shut down the streets at 5 o'clock," said Troutman. "I try to get in here early, get my stuff done right here in Midtown and then hang out downtown. I got a pickup at 5 o'clock, which I called to ask to get early, and I'm just getting out of here at 5."
The president heads back to Washington, D.C. around 11 p.m.
For NY1's 24-hour traffic updates, view Channel 104 on Time Warner Cable in the five boroughs or visit www.ny1.com/traffic.