The four-year planned transformation of Times Square is nearing completion, and a recent Wall Street Journal update reveals that all the additions and renovation work are set to be complete by their scheduled deadline at the end of December 2016. In many ways, the project is wrapping up at the ideal time, when a big swell of tourists will test whether the improvements actually stand up.
The transformation was first proposed in 2002, but it took a decade for construction to actually get underway. The project has taken place over three phases—Con Edison undertook underground infrastructural improvements first, and then improvements to the sidewalks, and the pedestrian plazas followed afterward.
The $55 million project was largely funded by the city’s Department of Transportation and designed by the celebrated Norwegian architecture firm, Snøhetta. The upgrades were also planned in collaboration with the Times Square Alliance.
Construction work in the past few years has made it increasingly difficult to traverse the area with complaints not just from people working in the area but also by Broadway theaters which saw their attendance decline in the 2013-2014 season to 1.8 million from a high of 2.9 million in 2005-2006.
But now with 85,000-square-feet more of pedestrian space, the stakeholders behind the project are hoping that when construction wraps up in December, it will be a smoother commute for both vehicles and pedestrians passing through Times Square. To that effect the DOT unveiled the Designated Activity Zones this past summer to ease congestion in the area and to also deal with complaints about costumed characters.
The official unveiling of the Times Square upgrade won’t take place until the spring of next year, and when a reporter for the Wall Street Journal stopped by over the past few weeks, they noticed that a lot of construction was still ongoing. Those behind the project however are optimistic that New Yorkers and tourists alike will be able to get a sense of the finished project come the end of this year.