NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After weeks of gridlock, 56th Street next to Trump Tower reopened to crosstown traffic on Wednesday.
The move to reopen one lane of traffic of the south side of 56th Street was made by the city, police and the secret service to help alleviate congestion and make it easier for delivery vans and customers to have access to businesses.
“The safety of New Yorkers and of the President-Elect are our top concern,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “The changes we are implementing will maintain that security, while allowing for more movement in the area and addressing concerns raised by surrounding businesses. We will continue to examine and carefully confront the challenges presented by this unprecedented responsibility.”
The street between Fifth and Sixth avenues has been closed to traffic since the election.
“This is the first day that you were able to cut right through,” one local worker told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “Usually you would have to park, go through the checkpoint, make a U-turn and go back to Sixth Avenue.”
Derek Walsh, the owner of Judge Roy Bean Public House, said the mess has hurt business at his bar.
“Everything is open on the block, but a lot of people walking by, they’re afraid to walk past the bomb squad, and the command post and the barricades,” he said.
Walsh hopes the renewed sounds of the busy rush will mean more business.
“You can see their traffic already. People walking down the street again,” Walsh said. “It means a lot for not just for our business but others in the block.”
Tommy was relieved when he pulled up and no longer had to spend 30 minutes at a checkpoint delivering oil to a local office building.
“The Secret Service, with the dogs, I had to open the hood, I had to open everything, every door here, they had to walk around the truck,” he told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.
Last week, city councilman Dan Garodnick went to the area to talk to local business owners.
“This just can’t be, it can’t be for the long term,” Garodnick said. “And the businesses should not be a consequence of being in the shadow of Trump Tower.”
In a statement, Garodnick praised the new developments, saying the street opening sends a signal that the area surrounding Trump Tower is open for business, Diamond reported.
“I thank the de Blasio administration for heeding our calls and making these much needed and sensible changes,” he said. “These changes will normalize the commercial activity on the block and will ensure that small businesses on 56th Street will not become a casualty of the Trump presidency. And it sends a message to all New Yorkers and visitors: 56th Street is open for business.”
Officials say the safety of President-elect Donald Trump’s home and Trump Tower is still a top concern. Because of that, 56th Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue will remain closed.
Just Tuesday, there was a scare in the Fifth Avenue high rise when cops quickly evacuated the lobby after spotting what turned out to be an unattended backpack full of children’s toys.
“I came 400 miles to eat at the Trump restaurant and we’re just about ready to sit at the table they said ‘Get out.’ I said ‘What?’ They said, ‘You gotta leave, there’s a threat.'” said tourist Jerry Morris.
Everyone entering the building is subject to having their bags X-rayed. Security experts say no chances will be taken with the home of the president-elect as a potential target.
“The home, besides the White House, of the president of the United States and we are to expect that very tight security grid in a very busy commercial neighborhood,” security expert Manny Gomez explained.
In addition to reopening traffic, the NYPD has also relocated its mobile command post closer to Trump Tower. The block of 56th between Fifth and Madison avenues remains closed.