Mayor Michael Bloomberg voices his support for converting Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Central Station into a pedestrian plaza a la Times Square, the New York Post reported. “Vanderbilt is a street with virtually no traffic,” he said, arguing that it’s therefore best to give pedestrians additional access — especially in a Midtown area that’s already heavily congested. Citing the cost of parking, Bloomberg said he doesn’t think New Yorkers should be driving much anyway.
But an opinion piece in the Post slammed the plan, arguing the lack of care taken to evaluate the consequences of a sudden pedestrian plaza transformation will lead to many of the same problems that has plagued Times Square’s plaza (which is about the same size as the proposed Vanderbilt Avenue one). The city enacted that pedestrian plaza at a cost of just $1 million, only to find that beautifying the area for tourists while maintaining traffic flow required an additional $40 million in expenditures.
The Post columnist said the problem is that Bloomberg, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden and Department of Transportation Chief Janette Sadik-Khan are failing to seriously study the affect a pedestrian plaza would have on businesses, commuters and traffic. Instead, they are creating a problem that the next administration will likely be forced to confront.