Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration today announced that the reconstruction of Times Square had been completed in time for its world-famous New Year’s Eve festivities. NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora and NYPD Captain Robert O’Hare were joined at the dedication in the heart of Times Square by Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins, former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“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 DDC 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 DOT 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 promulgated 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.
“The completion of the construction in Times Square, and its transformation into pedestrian plazas with sound regulations, are a true testament and an example of what can be accomplished when city agencies and the community work together towards a goal,” said Captain Robert W. O’Hare, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Times Square Unit. “The members of the NYPD and the Times Square Unit look forward to continuing to make “The Crossroads of the World” a safe place to visit.”
“The conversion of Times Square into a pedestrian plaza made it an amazing, special place – but it needed ground rules and investment to turn an innovative pilot into a mature public space,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Thanks to the Times Square Alliance, the administration, and my colleagues Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Corey Johnson, we have made Times Square a lasting public plaza that should be exciting and safe for years to come.”
“I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio, DOT, and DDC for once again taking initiatives to make our city streets more livable and pedestrian-friendly. The safety of New Yorkers has always been priority and the completion of this project is another step in that direction,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation.
“For too long, ‘The Crossroads of the World’ was a disorganized and dangerous logjam for pedestrians,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Along with the new activity zones, the permanent plazas will be a big help for bringing order – and much needed pedestrian space – to Times Square.”
“Times Square is a transformed urban space whose time has come,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, principal at Bloomberg Associates and former DOT commissioner. “The story of how it came to be inspires people around the world, and New Yorkers should take a fresh look at this new stage for the city. So much has changed between the first construction pylon and the final plaza tile, yet it’s never been more New York.”
“The timing is perfect: as Times Square teems with people in anticipation of New Year’s Eve, we need every inch of space for pedestrians and performances,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance. “We are also thrilled to be looking our best as we represent NYC to over a billion people worldwide.”
“This is a momentous occasion for all New Yorkers and for every visitor to our city,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “We thank Commissioner Trottenberg and everyone at the DOT for their hard work to build on the visionary concepts advanced by Janette Sadik-Khan, to create an iconic public space that people can enjoy and navigate, without having to walk through dangerous traffic.”
The project was designed by the architecture and design firm Snøhetta under the DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence Program. All firms in the program are committed to incorporating DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 Guiding Principles into their work, a series of non-prescriptive guidelines designed to ensure that public projects are designed and built to the highest standards that comply with Mayor de Blasio’s vision of a sustainable, resilient, equitable, and healthy City.