Heightened security measures that have been in place on the blocks surrounding Trump Tower since Donald Trump became America's President-elect won't be dissipating for at least 65 days, according to Mayor de Blasio.
"It is an unprecedented challenge," the mayor told reporters on Friday. Addressing drivers he added, "To the extent that you can avoid the immediate area around Trump Tower, that will make your life easier and everyone else's life easier."
From now until the inauguration, Secret Service and NYPD activity will span from 53rd Street to 57th Street between Madison Avenue and Sixth Avenue. Concrete barriers installed on 56th Street between Fifth and Madison will remain in place—a precaution against explosive-laden vehicles. Pedestrians will be able to pass, though not before submitting to a bag screening. The lobby of Trump Tower, which falls into the ever-oxymoronic category of publicly-owned private space, will remain open to the public, though also with a mandatory screening station.
The uniformed, heavily-armed, and undercover police presence will also be significant. "We have committed a substantial number of resources to Trump Tower," said Chief of Department Carlos Gomez. "A real substantial number. Twenty-four hours a day." In addition to posts around the building perimeter, police will be stationed with Secret Service personnel at check points along Fifth Avenue, and in surveillance posts on surrounding rooftops.
Traffic police will also be cracking down on truck drivers, who will be barred from Fifth Avenue southbound from 60th to 55th Street, and 56th Street eastbound between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. "You will see a very, very clear uptick of enforcement," de Blasio said.
Last week, Sam "Gridlock" Schwartz, who served as the DOT's Chief Engineer in the 1990s, predicted a traffic snarl with an outsize impact on public transportation. The M1, M2, M3, and M4 and M5 buses run on Fifth Avenue, and the M31 and and M57 buses run crosstown on 57th Street. The routes carry many commuters into Manhattan, express, from the Bronx.
Gomez said Friday that while Fifth Avenue will remain open to car and bus traffic, "two out of the five lanes are being restricted with barriers."
As for protests, Gomez said that small groups will be permitted to protest on the sidewalk "within sight and sound" of the tower, while larger groups will likely prompt Fifth Avenue closures. According to the NYPD, Fifth Avenue has been shut down three times in the last five days.
The Mayor deflected a steady stream of questions on Friday about how much time Trump, a known homebody, will spend in his gilded Fifth Avenue suites. An anonymous source told the Daily News last week that heightened security at Trump Tower is the new normal for "as long Trump is in office." And Schwartz predicts that, "From now until Jan 21, 2021, Fifth Avenue will have one or more lanes closed for security reasons every day"—regardless of whether Trump is in town.
"I think that's something that remains to be seen," de Blasio said. "And I don't think we should pre-judge that. I think right now for the 65 day period we know, with some assurance, he will be focused here. One thing I really believe strongly—he's going to be leading our nation, he needs to succeed for all of us, and he has to determine what works for him."
But even the cost of enforcement through January comes with a significant price tag. While the mayor refused to discuss dollar amounts, he alluded to high costs that the city does not want to be solely responsible for. "The NYPD Is carrying a burden for the entire nation," he said.
"There have been times in the past when we have been reimbursed," said NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill. "It's important for us this time that we need to go to the federal government."
"We are beginning conversations with the Obama administration and we will continue with the Trump administration," de Blasio added.
One reporter asked if the city is worried about Trump's track record when it comes to reimbursement, prompting a burst of laughter from the press. "This is public service," de Blasio responded. "This is a whole new reality."