Nearly two months after the rezoning of Midtown East was approved, the city has unveiled its first public-space improvement project, an initiative that was guaranteed as part of the rezoning.
The city plans to convert East 43rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenue into a “shared street.” What does that mean exactly? The city’s Department of Transportation will pilot a new program starting next spring to look at increasing sidewalk space; creating room for tables, chairs, and plantings; and reducing vehicular speeds on that stretch. Construction will wrap up in its entirely sometime in July 2021.
“This shared street will make a big difference in the quality of life for people working and traveling near Grand Central,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “In the years ahead, this neighborhood will see major upgrades to subway stations, more expansive space for pedestrians, investments in its iconic landmarks, and a new generation of office buildings that will spur good jobs for New Yorkers.”
Only one other full-time “shared street” exists in NYC, and it’s located on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets. The shared street program encourages pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to all share the right of way, and vehicles are required to drive at 5 m.p.h. Other public space improvements will follow as part of the rezoning, which concerns a 78-block stretch in the neighborhood, and will create 6.8 million square feet of new office space, and 28,000 full-time jobs.