Tomorrow is the start of the city's "Greenlight for Midtown" program, which involves banning vehicles on Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets (by Times Square) and between 33rd and 35th Street (by Herald Square). The city hopes that traffic congestion can be reduced by "reconnecting the street grid on 6th and 7th Avenues and giving space to pedestrians on Broadway." According to the Department of Transportation, the plan will result in "Traffic lights with up to 66% more green time," "Significant travel time improvements on Sixth and Seventh Avenues," "Safer and simpler crossings for pedestrians," and "Faster bus speeds for 70,000 daily riders."
The DOT also offers stats like "356,000 people walk through Times Square each day on overflowing sidewalks," "Traffic on Broadway moves on average only 4.2 miles per hour," and "Broadway has 137% more traffic crashes here than the nearby Avenues." DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan even calls Times Square a "human slalom course," and says, "[Broadway's irregular, diagonal path] contradicts the order of the city's grid. We're really trying to knit the city back together and fix something that's been broken for 200 years."
Back in February, when the program was announced, Mayor Bloomberg said, "By making targeted adjustments at Broadway's two main pinch points, we believe we can ease traffic congestion throughout the Midtown grid. We are going to closely monitor the results to determine if this pilot works and should be extended beyond its trial period." (A report will come out in December.)
The streets will be closed tomorrow and work will continue on the public plazas—the city hopes they'll be complete in August. Here are more details about "Greenlight for Midtown."