MTA Opposes Plan To Expand Pedestrian Space Around Rockefeller Center

Erica Brosnan
November 22, 2019 - 1:17 pm
Rockefeller Tree Security

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New Yorkers and tourists flocking to Rockefeller Center during the holiday season to see the world-famous Christmas tree will have a little extra elbow room this year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced a temporary expansion of the pedestrian space around the tree to help ensure the safety and comfort of visitors.

“The NYPD is second to none at protecting millions of people at some of the world’s largest events,” said Chief of Department Terence Monahan. “Due to collaboration with the Department of Transportation and our ability to adjust assets on the street in real-time, NY’s Finest will ensure the safety of those enjoying the holiday season in the Big Apple while minimizing vehicular congestion.”

Monahan noted that police will be using moveable barriers to help with partial or full street closures and to help with foot traffic.

“This historic announcement pedestrianizing Rockefeller Center will keep holiday revelers safe while ensuring minimal disruption to the rest of the life of the city,” de Blasio said in a statement.

The street closures will take effect on Friday, Nov. 29. The closures are as follows:

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 will also bypass stops along 48th and 52nd Streets.

“While the MTA fully supports safe pedestrian access for New Yorkers and visitors during this busy holiday time, we are disappointed that the plan put forward by the Mayor gives no priority to MTA buses and ignores the needsof bus customers. This unilateral decision flies in the face of the work that the MTA has done with NYC DOT to speed up bus times, decrease dwell times and increase ridership across our system," NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. "Thousands of buses travel these lanes every day getting riders where they need to go for the holidays to see family and friends, and the plan as put forward will only serve to increase congestion and result in slower speeds for ourpassengers.”

The tree lighting ceremony will be held Dec. 4.