Plan to Shut Down Rockefeller Center Streets 'Makes This City Less Safe,' Firefighters Union Says

WPIX - November 25, 2019

by CRISTIAN BENAVIDES

MIDTOWN MANHATTAN — A plan to keep traffic out of the area around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season will make New Yorker's less safe, according to the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the changes on Friday morning. About 800,000 people pass through the area every day during the holiday season. The changes are meant to make them safer.

“The move to increase ‘pedestrian space’ surrounding Rockefeller Center is misguided and makes this city less safe – plain and simple," Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said. "As it is, traffic is interfering with our firefighters abilities to reach the scene of a fire, but this new plan will have wide-felt repercussions in the form of traffic from river-to-river. We all want pedestrian safety, but a key component of safety for all is the ability for New York’s first responders to reach the scene of an emergency, and this is not the best way to ensure the safety of New York’s over 8-million residents and millions of holiday visitors."

The plan also upset MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford.

"We are disappointed that the plan put forward by the mayor gives no priority to MTA buses and ignores the needs of bus customers," he said.

MTA buses will have to bypass 48th to 52nd Streets.

Closures include:

*49th and 50th Streets will be shut Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to midnight, and Fridays, 1 p.m. to midnight, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to midnight.

*Fifth Avenue's lanes will be restricted Monday through Friday, from around 5 p.m. to Midnight, and on the weekends from noon to midnight.

*Also, no turns will be allowed on 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets from around 5 p.m. to midnight on weekdays, and from around noon to midnight on weekends.

The traffic changes begin on Nov. 29 and run through at least Jan. 1.

A fire department spokesman said that, as they do every year, the FDNY will work the the NYPD to ensure the safety of New Yorkers.

The mayor's office has made it clear that they will use removable barriers to allow emergency vehicles to drive though the area if necessary.