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City to Decide Whether to Keep Times Square Pedestrian Mall Permanently

By DNAinfo Staff on January 5, 2010 7:06am  | Updated on January 5, 2010 7:07am

By Mariel S. Clark

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — The mayor's office is waiting for a traffic report to be completed before deciding whether to extend the controversial plan that turned part of Times Square into a pedestrian mall.

The Department of Transportation is working on the report for the area surrounding the Broadway pedestrian mall, which runs from 42nd Street to 47th Street. The city will use that data to determine whether to make the pedestrian plaza permanent, or to reopen Broadway to cars and trucks.

"The project's main goal was to improve traffic flow and the secondary goal was to improve safety," said Mark LaVorgna, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's spokesperson. He said both factors would be taken into consideration in the city's decision.

The city originally closed the area to cars in May 2009, allowing the area's roughly 350,000 daily visitors to fill the streets.

On Monday, Lavanya Krishna took a picture of her son in the middle of the Broadway pedestrian mall — a photo that would have placed him in the middle of traffic when she first visited the area five years ago.

"it's awesome," she said. "With little kids and taking pictures, it's so easy."

Others agreed. Karam Taylor and his fiancé steered four small children easily across the Broadway mall near Father Duffy Square, a move that was more like a game of Frogger just a year ago.

"Coming from different areas, if you're not used to the traffic, how people drive here, you can step out in the street and it's easy to get hit," said Taylor, who was in town visiting from Washington D.C.

"So I think having places where people can walk around safely is good."

But not everyone was pleased with the move to close the area to vehicles. Jaswinder Singh, manager of Roxy Delicatessen on Broadway near 47th, said he would prefer the avenue be reopened to cars and trucks.

"We had better business with the cars," Singh said, adding that it had also been difficult to get deliveries because trucks had to park farther away.

Some stores, like Rag New York, which sells New York T-shirts and clothing, have seen a boost in their business since the pedestrian mall was created and want it to stay closed to cars.

"90 percent of our customers are tourists," said manager William Javier. "If they stay around here that means they're gonna buy more things from us."