MIDTOWN — Besides dodging taxis and tourists, visitors to the Crossroads of the World will soon have to contend with torn-up streets and disconnected water mains — as initial work on the massive redesign of Times Square begins this spring, a timetable released by the city revealed.
The $40 million project will see both Broadway and Seventh Avenue repaved — with a mosaic design embedded in the concrete — accompanied by new lamps and benches.
The project will make the pedestrian plaza in the area permanent, adding infrastructure that includes electrical outlets to eliminate the need for generators at large events and concerts, according to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction.
But the work will not affect Times Square's annual New Year's Eve extravaganza, as construction will cease between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1.
Work will begin with utility companies, including Con Edison, upgrading or relocating infrastructure such as underground wiring. Actual work on the street is set to begin in the fall and last until the 2015, officials said at a Community Board 5 meeting Monday.
"This is really a project to bring the Crossroads of the World up to the 21st century," said DOT Assistant Commissioner Andy Wiley-Schwartz.
Officials did not specify exactly when the initial work would begin, only saying that it would commence in late spring.
Construction crews will begin work on the Broadway section of the redesign in the winter, initially concentrating on the section between West 42nd and West 45th streets, and then moving on to work on the area between West 45th and West 47th streets.
The Broadway segment of the project will involve adding new infrastructure and pavement, along with tearing out old trolley tracks buried beneath the surface.
The DOT hopes to finish up with work on Broadway by the end of 2013, and then shift its focus onto Seventh Avenue to finish by fall 2015.
While working on Broadway, the DOT has pledged to maintain a 15-foot-wide access path for pedestrians, as well as access to all buildings.
The agency also pledged to keep a minimum of two lanes of traffic open at all times on Seventh Avenue during the work, along with two moving lanes on cross streets.
However, residents and office workers may see some impact to their buildings.
Merchant deliveries won't be allowed in any of the active disruption zones, and it's likely that several buildings will have their water shut off a day at a time because of water-main construction.
"The DDC will monitor all the operations and try to keep noise down," Jim Quinn, principal at Weidlinger Associates, a contractor working on the project, noted at the CB5 meeting.
The design, first unveiled in the fall, was altered to shift a bike lane going down Seventh Avenue from the west to the east side of the street due to community feedback.
Board members were generally supportive of the plan, but they did echo some concerns brought by the Times Square Alliance, including a request to make some of the large benches removable, so they can be taken away to make space for crowds at large events.
"We have to be diligent," said Raju Mann, who leads CB5's transportation and environment committee.
"This is probably the most important public space project in New York City over the next 50 years."