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Times Square Revitalization Project Taking Toll On New Yorkers

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Times Square is often referred to as the crossroads of the world, but its crosswalks are becoming more and more crowded due to an ongoing construction project.

Just past the Naked Cowboy and under the famed marquees and billboards, you can see the torn-up roadway.

As CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported, three of five pedestrian plazas in Times Square are currently under construction as part of a three-year, $40 million effort by the city to revitalize the urban space.

The project is also fixing century-old water mains and utilities buried underground.

But the work is also causing gridlock everywhere you go, Kozar reported. There is little room to walk or drive and emergency vehicles sometimes get stuck.

And it doesn’t help that the Marriott Marquis is also undergoing renovations.

“There’s not as many places to sit. It’s dirty. It’s noisy. I just sounds like a complaining New Yorker,” said New York resident Connie Scaglione.

“Takes a lot longer to get through it. I try to avoid it as much as I can,” said Upper East Side resident Amy Vlosky.

“It’s not surprising to me that some folks are saying, ‘Oh my God, when is this going to end,'” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

Tompkins said he understands the frustration, but that the long-term payoff will be worth it.

Some of the work has already been completed and the phased project will be finished in three years instead of six, which was an option, Kozar reported.

“We’re in the process of peeling the Band Aid off. We’re saying we’ve got to go through this short-term pain so it’s done more quickly, and after the pain it will be fine,” Tompkins said.

FDNY officials told CBS 2 they are aware of the construction, but have not made any procedural changes to avoid the area when responding to calls.

For some, the hustle and bustle of the crowds don’t bother them. It’s all part of the mystique.

“I think it’s the greatest thing in the world. I love it,” tourist Deborah Gray said.

Some have wondered why the city cannot do the winter months when it is colder and fewer people are around. But the city says that is not possible, because some elements such as the grout for the stone tiles on the sidewalks have to be put in during warmer weather.

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