With New York City’s mass transit in the early stages of coming back on-line due to the overwhelming amount of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking a proactive approach to keeping street traffic in Manhattan at a manageable level.
The mayor announced during his Wednesday afternoon press conference that effective Thursday morning there will be restrictions on cars entering the borough.
“I have ordered the four East River bridges be restricted to high-occupancy vehicles coming into Manhattan, meaning three or more people per vehicle, all day Thursday and all day Friday from 6 a.m. to midnight,” Bloomberg said.
“I think anybody that tried to drive around New York City today realized there are a lot of cars on the road; traffic is heavy. To reduce the number of cars coming into Manhattan we have to take some steps because the streets just cannot handle the numbers of cars that have tried to come in.”
The chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority applauded the mayor’s decision, saying it well help alleviate the huge backups.
“The city is at the worst level of gridlock I have ever seen,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota told WCBS 880 Wednesday evening.
The mayor went on to say the limitations to ridership do not apply to the George Washington Bridge and that exceptions to HOV rules, including commercial, emergency and paratransit vehicles, as well as buses, will be made. Taxis will be exempt from the restriction from 4 p.m. to midnight on both days because when drivers start a new shift they are not going to immediately have passengers.
Bloomberg spoke with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is issuing the same mandate for the Triborough and Henry Hudson bridges, as well as the Lincoln Tunnel.
“I know it is inconvenient for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much,” the mayor said. “Hopefully, we can find ways for you to pick up people who will be standing by the bridges. They’ve got a problem of getting in; you’re their solution and they are your solution as well.”
The mayor went on to say that even though the power should be back on in the next few days, driving remains treacherous and that safety should be the only priority among motorists.
“People should use extreme caution when driving on the streets, particularly where there are no traffic lights operating,” Bloomberg said. “We’ll have Police Department recruits at these intersections starting tonight to direct traffic.”
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