Bloomberg: The pedestrian plazas are here to stay

Bloomberg on Friday. (via the World Bank.)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said the Times Square and Herald Square pedestrian plazas have achieved tenure status.

"Now that it's been there for three or four years, I think it'd be hard pressed for anybody to ever turn it back," he said today, during a discussion about transportation co-hosted by the World Bank.

When, in 2009, the mayor and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced that portions of Times Square and Herald Square would be closed to traffic, the reaction in some quarters was vitriolic.

Sadik-Khan and the mayor argued that the move would actually ease traffic, not further congest it.

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The following year, when they said the changes would be made permanent, the city issued statistics supporting its congestion-easing point of view.

Bloomberg is, in fact, doing more than just saying the Times Square plaza has achieved permanency, and is actually prepared to invest new money in making it so.

Starting sometime this year, the administration is planning to plow millions into a Times Square pedestrian plaza redesign.

The $40 million project will create "a mosaic design embedded in the concrete—accompanied by new lamps and benches," according to one news source, and will have "a noirish quality that evokes the square’s colorful and occasionally illicit past," according to another.  

Bloomberg's desire to get this project underway makes sense from a permanency standpoint.

His third and final term concludes at the end of 2013, and it's not all that clear where his would-be successors stand on the issue.

For his part, the mayor reiterated his belief that roads, "are not necessarily designed to move automobiles."

"And so you might want to use your roads for other methods of transportation," he said. "There's mass transit, buses, you could put trolleys on the streets, taxicabs, bicycles or perhaps even a ways which the press found a unique method of transportation. It is called walking."