NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Pope Francis’ New York City visit was still days away late Monday, but the signs of what’s to come were posted all over the Upper West Side.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, streets off Central Park were already cleared late Monday, with blue barricades in their place, All cars on east-west crosstown streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue were ordered to be moved by 1 a.m. Tuesday.
The order affected crosstown streets from the 60s to the 80s.
Similar restrictions were in place all over Manhattan, and they have left people a bit uncertain as to what the end of the week will bring.
“It’s really going to be tight security, and people should prepare for that now,” said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th).
Rosenthal was warning residents throughout Manhattan that the side streets were being locked down in preparation for the pope’s arrival.
“If you’re in a cab or a car or a bus, there will be disruptions, but they’ll be in identifiable areas,” said Mitch Moss, director of the Rubin Center for Transportation at NYU.
Moss has just completed a two-week study of the effects of the wide-ranging shutdowns around Manhattan. And they don’t end with the streets near Central Park.
Starting Thursday, the streets surrounding St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Fifth Avenue and East 50th Street will close to traffic, as will the streets surrounding the papal residence at 72nd Street and Madison Avenue where Pope Francis will stay.
There will also be intermittent closures of the FDR Drive.
But on Friday, a wider swath of the city will close as the pope travels throughout Manhattan – first to the UN, then to the World Trade Center site, up to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, through the west side of Central Park for a papal motorcade, and then down to Madison Square Garden for an evening mass.
But Moss said for the most part, his study showed the city should be able to keep functioning.
“Citizens of New York have been given a great gift. They’ve been told where to avoid,” he said. “Once they’ve been told that, they can stay out of the cabs, out of their cars, and of course, the subway will get them just the same place — just not on the surface.”
Alen MacWeeney of the Upper East Side said he would just avoid going around the city.
“I’ll stay put. I’m not worried,” MacWeeney said. “It’s kind of nice that he’s coming — very nice that he’s coming. He’s loved by the world.”
But many who live on the Upper West Side said they are not looking forward to the hassle.
“I don’t think anyone of any importance should ever be allowed in New York City, including presidents, heads of states, anybody, because New Yorkers get very impatient — me included,” one woman said.