Reporting Paul Murnane
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest plan to expand the 34th Street plaza was not popular with either residents or businesses, who are relieved now that the administration is backing off of it.
The plan would have turned the 34th Street plaza into a large pedestrian mall, with cars and trucks banned between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It is similar to earlier efforts which turned Times Square, Union Square and Herald Square into pedestrian malls.
From Sixth Avenue, cars and trucks could only go west to the Hudson, and from Fifth, only eastbound to the East River.
Some New Yorkers denounced the plan saying traffic would increase on side streets with drivers seeking alternate routes to get across the city.
Businesses and residents complained that an express bus lane would block access to their buildings.
“It’s going to destroy the neighborhood,” said Murray Hill resident Marisa Bulzone.
One man says closing 34th Street would’ve made his life miserable
“East, west, east, west – this is not a highway. This is the heart of a residential neighborhood,” said Aline Chatmajian, Transit Action Committee spokesperson.
The proposal had been intended to ease gridlock and speed up buses, shaving an estimated four minutes off crosstown commute times.
“Is four minutes worth potentially safety issues from fire?” asked Sam Milgrim, spokesman for the 7 Park Avenue Co-op. “Because they’re going to put a concrete barrier here.”
WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane with the story from Midtown
Apparently bowing to public pressure, the city was backing off Thursday, with Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan publicly saying “The design has evolved as we continue to work with the community. We want the public process to play itself out.”
A revised plan was set to be unveiled next week. Sadik-Khan said it will expand curb access for deliveries and parking, but she hasn’t given any other specifics, such as whether 34th Street will continue to be open to traffic from both directions or will be reduced to one-way traffic.
A final plan likely won’t be ready until this fall with construction set to begin in the spring of next year.