FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #06-56
Contact: Kay Sarlin/ 212-442-7033
DOT Announces Pedestrian Safety Improvements For Times Square
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Iris Weinshall, along with the President of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, today announced that the vehicle crossover between 7th Avenue and Broadway in Times Square will be closed beginning November 4th. The closing of the cross-over and the re-striping of the streets will allow DOT to provide 50% more sidewalk space for pedestrians throughout this heavily traveled neighborhood. The reconfiguration of the streets (pdf) is a temporary change which will be in effect until DOT has completed its evaluation on the closure's effects on vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
"We are continually looking for ways to provide more space for pedestrians to walk through this busy area," said DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. "Times Square has some of the heaviest pedestrian volumes in the City so this is a great opportunity to experiment with reconfiguring the flow of traffic and creating larger sidewalks to provide more space for pedestrians."
"This is a bold and innovative step to address the number one safety concern and quality of life issue in Times Square -- intense pedestrian congestion on our sidewalks," said Alliance President Tim Tompkins. "We applaud DOT for exploring this out-of-the box solution and carefully testing its traffic impact before deciding to fully implement it."
Since over 13,000 pedestrians an hour crowd the sidewalks and overflow into the roadways in Times Square during the busiest parts of the day, DOT made pedestrian improvements in 2001 by installing plastic delineators which increased sidewalk space along 7th Avenue between West 45th and West 44th streets and along Broadway between West 44th and West 42nd streets. These temporary improvements will be made permanent in 2008. The closure of the crossover will allow DOT to provide even more space for pedestrians. Broadway between 46th and 47th streets and 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th streets will see significant sidewalk expansions.
Beginning on November 4th, vehicles traveling on Broadway will continue along 7th Avenue south of West 45th Street. Vehicles traveling on 7th Avenue will continue on Broadway south of West 45th street - they will no longer have the option of crossing over to 7th Avenue. New signs directing drivers how to proceed have been hung on large mast arms and will be uncovered on November 4th, and variable message boards will be activated to alert drivers of the changing road pattern. In addition to the closure of the cross-over, the test will change bike lane configurations, the number of roadway travel lanes and curb-side regulations.
Evaluations will consist of traffic counts at 16 locations, turning movement counts at 8 locations, travel times and speeds from uptown locations to West 34th street and visual observations from DOT's Traffic Management Center. Once evaluations have been completed DOT will decide whether or not to make the changes permanent.