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Plazas on the Street

Street Plaza on Broadway, New York

Street Plaza on Broadway, New York

An article in USA Today describes the new program in New York City to create “street plazas” from pieces or entire lanes of streets.

On Broadway, the neon-lit, iconic avenue that slices through Manhattan, city officials have transformed two traffic lanes between Times Square and Herald Square into pedestrian plazas where folks can sit at tables and watch the city rush by. The spaces opened last month, and another plaza, in nearby Madison Square…… “I look at our streets as our patios, our playgrounds, our backyards,” says Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation. “For many years, our transportation policy has been about moving cars as quickly as possible from point A to point B, and we’re trying to rebalance that system.”

The Madison Square space cost $1 million, and the plazas closest to Times Square, dubbed “Broadway Boulevard,” cost $700,000, Sadik-Khan says. Three other plazas have been created in parking spaces and roadways in other parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The city aims to build four plazas a year.

The creation of pedestrian plazas is part of fulfilling the goal of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to have all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space. The effort, called PlaNYC, also looks to upgrade over 100 schoolyards as parks and is geared at tackling climate change and improving the quality of life in a city that is likely to have 1 million more residents by 2030. For cities lacking any space for new parks, the streets are public lands that might provide an opportunity.

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