NEW YORK — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration announced that the reconstruction of Times Square is now complete just in time for New Year’s Eve festivities.
“All the world knows that New Year’s Eve is an incomparable time to be in New York City — and there will be no more iconic place to ring in 2017 than Times Square,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With the changes unveiled today, Times Square is now a safer and more welcoming place for the millions of residents, commuters and tourists who visit and pass through it every day. I am so proud that our agencies could come together and finish their incredible work before the new year, ending the disruption that invariably comes with big and complex construction projects.”
“Being able to carve out two acres of new space for pedestrians in one of the world’s most popular plazas is a remarkable gift to the tens of millions of people who visit the ‘Crossroads of the World’ each year,” said NYC Department of Design Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Times Square is now equipped with more resilient sewer systems, wider sidewalks, ample seating, and an emphasis on pedestrian safety that will serve generations to come.”
“In the almost eight years since Broadway in Times Square was first closed to vehicular traffic, it has never looked better,” said NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “These amazing changes, coupled with the sensible policies for pedestrian movement and solicitation that we instated this year, have made a magical public space even more wonderful and inviting. We are also grateful to be joined today by so many of our partners whose collective vision was so instrumental in getting us to where we are today.”
In February 2009, DOT announced that vehicular traffic would be replaced by pedestrian plazas along Broadway in Times Square between West 42nd and West 47th Streets. The $55 million project to more permanently convert those plazas to pedestrian use began in 2013, managed by the Department of Design and Construction for the Department of Transportation. The five reconstructed pedestrian plazas comprise 85,000-square-feet – or almost two full acres – in the space previously occupied by Broadway traffic. The completed reconstruction includes wider sidewalks; user amenities like benches; rebuilt curbs, streets and sidewalks; modern street and traffic lighting; and a new southbound raised bike lane on 7th Avenue.
Prior to the completion of the above-ground work, the area received new sewers and water mains and utility companies such as Con Edison and Verizon also completed about $25 million of underground utility upgrades. Also hidden from view are electrical lines and other cables and outlets that allow for street performances and events without the need to run wires above ground. Several lengths of old unused streetcar tracks were also removed. With the ongoing and extensive work in Times Square now complete, the end of construction is expected to ease roadway congestion in the surrounding area.
Earlier this year, the City Council enacted a new law governing pedestrian plazas Citywide. Under that law, DOT enacted new regulations for Times Square, governing new pedestrian flow zones and designated activity zones. Enforced by NYPD, the new zones have helped keep pedestrian traffic flowing and helped curb aggressive commercial behavior.