NYC unveils plan to close Midtown, Manhattan’s 5th Avenue to cars for 3 Sundays in December


MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) — Gridlock alerts have already been issued in New York City for several days as we head towards the busy holiday season, but traffic is expected to get worse after the mayor unveiled new plans to close more streets to traffic in December.

Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a sweeping plan on Tuesday, to open 11 car-free city blocks to pedestrians in Midtown, Manhattan in an effort to encourage New Yorkers and tourists to shop at local small businesses during the holidays.

The plan will transform Fifth Avenue, from 48th Street to 57th Street, into an open street on three Sundays in December: December 4, 11 and 18. The open streets will be in effect on those days between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.

RELATED | NYC Gridlock Alert 2022: Days to know this holiday season

The plan was put together through a partnership between the Adams administration, NYC Department of Transportation, NYPD and the Fifth Avenue Association.

“Every year, people come from across the world to New York City, and to Midtown Manhattan specifically, during the holiday season. This year, we are going to make that experience safer and more enjoyable for all New Yorkers and visitors with more access to Open Streets,” Mayor Adams said.

However, not everyone is excited about the plan.

“I think it’s horrible to close it, because it’s just gonna create gridlock everywhere else,” cab driver Manny Antelada said.

The city says it’s building on its open streets concept that proved successful during the pandemic. In this case, though, the MTA on Tuesday night said it still had no plan for how to reroute buses around the closure.

City Hall tells Eyewitness News it’s now considering adding a bus lane for the thousands who would be inconvenienced.

“There are too many cars and open streets are beautiful, everyone can walk,” Caterina Cappuccilli said.

Here’s everything you need to know about plan:

Fifth Avenue

On December 4, 11, and 18, from 12 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., Fifth Avenue, from 48th Street to 57th Street, will only be open to pedestrians. In addition, throughout the entire holiday season, moveable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of Fifth Avenue, between 48th Street and 52nd Street. On days the street is not designated an Open Street, beginning in the early afternoon on weekdays and in the morning on weekends, these barriers will be used to repurpose a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue as additional pedestrian space. To accommodate high pedestrian traffic, westbound vehicle right turns will be prohibited from Fifth Avenue onto 47th Street, 49th Street, or 51st Street.

On the designated Sundays, visitors to the Fifth Avenue Open Street will be able to enjoy a range of performances, including choirs, drum lines, and a samba group. Food and beverage vendors will also serve the area, and public seating will be provided. A full list of activities and amenities will be available online.

Rockefeller Center

Starting with the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on Wednesday, November 30, through early to mid-January, the city will pedestrianize the streets surrounding Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, using movable barriers to partially or fully close streets to cars and alleviate foot traffic along sidewalks. With the support of Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and New York City Councilmember Keith Powers, West 49th Street and West 50th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, will only be open to pedestrians during the most congested hours, between 11 a.m. and 12 a.m. midnight every day. The NYPD will help ensure that vehicle traffic does not enter those streets.

Sixth Avenue

Also beginning with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting on November 30 through early to mid-January, moveable barriers will be placed on the east side of Sixth Avenue between 48th Street and 52nd Street, reallocating one lane of traffic for additional pedestrian space.

Bus Service

All MTA crosstown buses will be rerouted during pedestrian-only hours on cross-streets. On Fifth Avenue, MTA buses will bypass all stops between 48th Street and 52nd Street, and, on Open Street Sundays, buses will be entirely rerouted to southbound avenues.

Open Streets Performance Schedule (Beginning at W 51st Street)

December 4:

– 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Brooklyn United Drum Line

– 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Brooklyn High School of the Arts Chorus

– 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Manhattan Samba

December 11:

– 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Brooklyn United Drum Line

– 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Kaufman Music Center Chorus

– 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Manhattan Samba

December 18:

– 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Brooklyn United Drum Line

– 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: To be announced

– 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Manhattan Samba


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