NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Starting today, New York City is closing streets and creating temporary pedestrian walkways around Rockefeller Center.

The controversial plan was designed to make it easier for those who want to pay a visit to the famous Christmas tree.

“It’s gotten more and more popular. So literately each year more and more people are coming,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “That’s creating a real safety issue.”

While pedestrians may have more access, drivers will be forced to maneuver around street and lane closures.

“It’s already anticipated this time of the year you have to be a little flexible. If it increases safety for the pedestrians, I’m all for it,” driver Mitchell Lopez said.

“It’s going to create more problems, because there’s already a lot of traffic around the Rockefeller Center area,” said Peter Boutros, of Fanwood, New Jersey.

“I’m OK with it. I’d rather – the safety of people is more important,” Maria Boutros, of Fanwood, added.

Side Street Closures: 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be open to pedestrians alone during the most congested hours. By default, these streets will be closed between 2 p.m. and midnight from Monday to Thursday, 1 p.m. and midnight on Friday, and 10 a.m. and midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

5th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of the streets on 5th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue to create more pedestrian space. Additionally, there will be no turns on 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets. Barriers will be put in place between 5 p.m. or earlier and midnight during the week, and between noon or earlier on weekends.

6th Avenue: Movable barriers may be placed on the east side of the street on 6th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating one lane of traffic to create more pedestrian space. 6th Avenue will be monitored and barriers will be put in place or removed depending on crowd conditions.

Buses: MTA buses will bypass 48th to 52nd Streets.

The plan also calls for MTA buses to bypass 48th to 52nd streets. Transit Authority President Andy Byford said in a statement he’s disappointed the changes ignore the needs of bus commuters.

The president of the FDNY-Uniformed Firefighter Association raised concerns, as well, saying, “This new plan will have wide-felt repercussions in the form of traffic from river-to-river. We all want pedestrian safety, but a key component of safety for all is the ability for New York’s first responders to reach the scene of an emergency.”

The NYPD and DOT will have staff there around the clock to monitor the situation. The closures start at 1 p.m. Friday and last through New Year’s Day.

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