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NYC: A Car-Free 42nd Street?

Citizen's group Vision 42 is proposing a plan that would completely shut down 42nd street to traffic, and build a light rail system that would span...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on October 15, 2009.

This year, New York City has experimented with closing sections of Broadway, transforming the usually busy thoroughfare into a relaxed pedestrian mall. The move dramatically changed the quality of living for area residents and walkers for the better (even if it was just temporary).

A similar plan is being proposed by citizen’s group Vision 42 that would completely shut down 42nd street to traffic, and build a light rail system that would span the width of Manhattan.

Local business are showing interest in this eco-friendly project, but the city government is showing hesitation.

The Times reports:

The light rail system, which would cost an estimated $500 million, would run from terminal to terminal in about 20 minutes, half the time that the current bus system takes, said George Haikalis, an engineer who serves as a co-chairman of Vision 42. He is one of three board members of the Institute for Rational Mobility. Through October, Clear Channel/Spectracolor is running a free public service announcement for Vision 42 on its Times Square billboard at 1567 Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets.

“The real gain here is you could handle three times as many people with roughly the same cost,” Mr. Haikalis said. “A lot of people have expressed interest in this, but have not signed on, because they’re awaiting interest from Mayor Bloomberg.”

While three large owners of real estate on 42nd Street and a real estate company that manages office buildings there have signed on to support the proposal, advocates for Vision 42 said they had not been able to engage the city in a discussion.

“We think the mayor considers this competitive with his No. 7 subway line extension,” said Roxanne Warren, an architect who is co-chairwoman of Vision 42.

New York Times: “Without Cars, a Different Sort of 42nd St.”

Thinking...