Large Crowds, Gridlock Expected As MTV VMAs Take Over Downtown Newark

Erica Brosnan
August 23, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Updated 10:35AM on Monday, August 26, 2019

NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Newark is gearing up to host this year’s MTV Video Music Awards and police are telling residents to prepare for nightmarish traffic conditions.

The VMAs will be held at the Prudential Center on Monday night for the first time in 35 years, and Newark is already preparing for widespread gridlock.


“We’d like the downtown businesses to treat this like a major blizzard – except we know it’s coming a few days in advance,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “It would be a mistake to underestimate the impact the (VMAs) are going to have on the downtown and the main roads in and out of the city.”

The @mtv VMAs are at the @prucenter in #Newark tonight. Here’s @wcbsnewsradio880 traffic reporter @jimfeldman to let you know what to expect trafficwise. #traffic #trafficandweathertogetheronthe8s

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Officials warn of rush hour gridlock that evening, and they’re asking some downtown businesses to let employees work from home or leave early to ease congestion.

“We are trying to spare people the aggravating gridlock, both coming into work and leaving,” Ambrose said.

During the morning commute, major roadways in the city were closed, including Mulberry Street from Lafayette Street to Market Street.

“That’s a main morning artery, especially for parking,” Ambrose said. “That closure will push more traffic onto Broad Street and McCarter Highway, so everyone should be aware the morning commute will tough.”

Later in the morning, the Mulberry closure will extend from Green Street to Raymond Boulevard and will remain closed at least until 2 a.m. Franklin Street will also be closed.

Market Street will be closed from Washington Street to McCarter Highway beginning at 10 a.m. until at least 2 a.m. on Tuesday. Edison Place between Broad Street and McCarter Highway will also be closed for the day.

Beginning at 4 p.m. Monday, there were also be lane closures on the northbound side of Broad Street and the westbound lanes of Lafayette Street, lasting until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“We will have many traffic control officers in place, but they can’t stop gridlock if employers and employees people don’t heed this advice and either take mass transit, stagger hours, or let people work from home,” Ambrose added.

He says he wants all residents and visitors to be able to enjoy the event and reiterated the need for people to remain vigilant and report any crimes or suspicious activities to police.

“The public’s partnership with law enforcement is invaluable in ensuring a safe event,” he said. “We ask you to abide by the national safety awareness watchwords: ‘If you see something, say something.’”

Mass transit will be the best option for moving around Newark.

The show kicks off at 8 p.m. Monday. Missy Elliott, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Normani, Bad Bunny, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, H.E.R., J Balvin, Lil Nas X, Rosalia, Big Sean, Ozuna, A$AP Ferg and Jonas Brothers are scehduled to perform.

Street Closures:

Sunday, August 25th, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Mulberry Street between Market Street and Lafayette Street

Monday, August 26th, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

  • Mulberry Street, from Lafayette Street to Market Street
  • Franklin Street

Monday, August 26th, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Extended Street Closure)

  • Mulberry Street, from Raymond Boulevard and Green Street

Monday, August 26th, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

  • Market Street between Washington Street and McCarter Highway
  • Edison Place between Broad Street and McCarter Highway

Lane Closures:

Monday, August 26th, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

  • Bus lane and northbound lane of traffic on Broad Street, from Green Street to Market Street

Monday, August 26th, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

  • Westbound lane of traffic on Lafayette Street, from McCarter Highway to Broad Street