Fifth Avenue is set to become a pedestrian-centered boulevard

Just a month after news of Fifth Avenue closing to car traffic for a few weeks in December caused an excited ruckus among New Yorkers, Mayor Eric Adams announced an entirely updated vision for the popular area that focuses on transforming it into a pedestrian-centered boulevard. 

Based on the success of the above-mentioned holiday Open Streets program and the city’s new “New New York: Making New York Work for Everyone” plan, the project zeroes in on Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park at 42nd Street to Central Park at 59th Street to make it a less congested and safer destination that prioritizes cyclists and mass transit options.

“Fifth Avenue is an iconic corridor and an engine of our midtown economy. But it is also an unmissable opportunity to show the city and the country how world-class public space can help create vibrant central business districts,” the politician said in a statement. “New York isn’t coming back, New York is back. But New Yorkers don’t sit on our hands—we will continue to bring everyone to the table, come up with innovative ideas together, and make our city safer, fairer, and more prosperous.”

Fifth Avenue pedestrian
Rendering: Courtesy of the Office of the Mayor of NYC

Mayor Adams set the following goals as part of the overall vision based on a range of data that includes commuting trends, work and traffic patterns and congestion pricing:

  • Transform Fifth Avenue between Bryant Park and Central Park into an innovative pedestrian-focused space for the public to enjoy, with public realm improvements like expanded green space, new tree plantings and enhanced lighting.
  • Prioritize sustainable modes of transportation and mass transit, including speeding up bus travel.
  • Significantly increase pedestrian space across the avenue—expanding sidewalks and prioritizing accessibility and pedestrian mobility.
  • Improve street safety, including for cycling.

Details about the plan are still being ironed out, but you can expect a series of improvements to be implemented by early 2023, when the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) will reach out and contract a design firm to start the construction process.

The entire vision is scheduled to be executed in a total of two years.

Funding-wise, the city and the state will provide the majority of the capital for the project but a number of private partners (including the Bryant Park Association, the Central Park Conservancy, the Fifth Avenue Association and the Grand Central Partnership) will be involved financially as well. 

It is the dawn of a new era within one of the most visited neighborhoods in the entire world.

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