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City Considering Closing Central Park's West Drive to Cars, Pol Says

By Emily Frost | January 26, 2016 4:07pm
 There could be an extension of the car ban in Central Park along the West Side, said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.
There could be an extension of the car ban in Central Park along the West Side, said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — Central Park's West Drive could be closed to traffic permanently under a new plan the city is mulling over, said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. 

In June of last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Central Park would become car-free north of West 72nd Street, a move locals touted as a win after years of advocating for the ban.

Residents have said that with the influx of tourists, carriages, pedicabs, runners and cyclists, there isn't room for cars to use the park safely as well. 

The southern end of West Drive, the westernmost road within the park that runs parallel to Central Park West, has remained open to traffic on weekday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street. 

But that could change soon, said City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal at a Community Board 7 meeting Monday. 

Rosenthal said she spoke with de Blasio administration officials last week and they said the move was under consideration. 

"It’s another step forward in our quest for getting cars out [of Central Park]," she said. 

They were not, however, willing to limit car usage at the southern portion of Central Park along the East Drive, she said.

On making the east side of the park car-free, "they’re really not willing to move," said Rosenthal. 

A spokesman for the mayor could not confirm that West Drive would be permanently closed to cars. 

"The mayor is a longstanding supporter of car-free parks and just last year restored large parts of Central and Prospect Parks as permanently car-free, 24-7," he said in a statement.

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