Winter 1999-2000, p.2

Where are the Times Square Pedestrian Improvements?

Thanks to the strong encouragement of local businesses, DOT widened the sidewalk on the west side of Duffy Square (46th to 47th Streets and 7th Ave.) in November. Unfortunately, more extensive sidewalk widenings championed by the Business Improvement District and Department of City Planning are stuck in the morass at DOT Geometric Engineering.Times Square is the heart of the action in New York City, its sidewalks so dangerously jammed past capacity that walkers spill into the street. With its tourist throngs and frenzied new office construction (including a network morning show which overlooks the fray) you would think Times Square ranks high on the Mayor's list for major pedestrian improvements. Indeed, the crowding in Times Square is so overwhelming and obvious that over a year ago both the Department of City Planning and the Times Square Business Improvement District proposed extensive sidewalk widening plans. Money should not be a problem for the relatively inexpensive sidewalk widenings being proposed, as Federal TEA-21 reserves plentiful funds for pedestrian projects.

But in a sadly familiar tale, both plans are now stuck in the Department of Transportation's infamous Geometric Engineering unit. DOT engineers have reportedly rejected the modest City Planning proposal in favor of the even more modest BID sidewalk widening proposal. DOT's glacial pace in the face of such a high profile and pressing need is disturbing. Another, more vexing question: Why are low-level engineers, whose only focus is automobile traffic flow, making Mayoral-level policy decisions about the future of the most famous public space in the world?

Write and ask City Hall to get desperately needed sidewalk widenings in Times Square underway.

Write to:
Joseph Lhota
Deputy Mayor for Operations
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Fax: 212-788-3127

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