Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to pedestrianize streets around Rockefeller Center this holiday season will only cause “city-wide gridlock river to river” and lead to a slowdown in emergency response times, the city’s firefighters union warned on Sunday.
The FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association shot back against the mayor’s announcement on Friday that the tourist mecca will be closed to cars from Nov. 29 through the New Year in an effort to safeguard the crush of pedestrians flocking to the area.
“The move to increase ‘pedestrian space’ surrounding Rockefeller Center is misguided and makes this city less safe — plain and simple,” said union president Gerard Fitzgerald in a statement. “As it is, traffic is interfering with our firefighters’ abilities to reach the scene of a fire, but this new plan will have wide-felt repercussions in the form of traffic from river to river.”
Fitzgerald said the closures — scheduled for 49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues from 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 10 a.m. to midnight on the weekends — will interfere with emergency vehicle traffic and will prohibit smoke eaters and other first responders from reaching emergency scenes.