- Last Updated: 1:16 AM, July 10, 2012
- Posted: 12:52 AM, July 10, 2012
It’s costing the city $40 million to clean up the mess it made with Times Square’s butt-ugly pedestrian plazas. How much will it cost to fix and beautify the inevitable hideous result of turning Vanderbilt Avenue into a pedestrian mall?
It will be for the next mayor to find out, because by the time Vanderbilt is redone, Mike Bloomberg will have choppered off to his next hobby.
Never mind that what’s being considered isn’t even yet a formal proposal but merely a “study,” the Department of City Planning says — because nearly every such step dreamed up by the DCP and the Department of Transportation became law.
The mall-ification of Times Square was rammed through at a cost of just $1 million without meaningful oversight or environmental review. The result: five blocks of barren, tourist-trampled asphalt worthy of a prison yard — prompting an embarrassed City Hall to allocate 40 times that amount to improving them.
The same is sure to occur on Vanderbilt Avenue — which is as long as Times Square and has about the same amount of surface area as its plaza-fied sections.
The city promises that a vehicle-free Vanderbilt would still allow car access to Grand Central Terminal and allow cross-traffic.
Fine, but that isn’t the issue. Neither is cabdrivers’ whining that a mall might make their jobs harder.
The problem is the unchecked tampering with the streetscape’s DNA by Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden and DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan.
Consequences of changing Vanderbilt can’t be predicted — for business, commuters and traffic.
With the usual wink-wink from Bloomberg, Burden and Sadik-Khan cynically barnacled the Vanderbilt brainstorm onto a broad initiative to “modernize” Midtown East, which includes an overdue rezoning of the Grand Central area to allow larger new buildings.
It could be many years before any go up. But a “new” Vanderbilt Avenue will be the next mayor’s unhappy inauguration present.