UN General Assembly: Subway recommended to avoid street closures, but can the MTA deliver?

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NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly — where leaders of nearly every nation on Earth come together for days of interaction — will be in session next week for the first time in two years. That also means that some of the headaches of getting around town during the weeklong event are coming back, as well. 

Transportation officials and experts alike are saying that there’s no better time for commuters to get back to using the subway, since the event will shut down all of the streets and avenues surrounding the U.N. campus all week, and will sporadically close far more streets and avenues across the entire east side of Manhattan, particularly during the first three days of next week.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tried to add a dose of humor to the anticipated situation on Friday.

“The good news is we know how patient New Yorkers are,” he said, to laughter from the members of the press on hand at the commissioner’s presentation. 

The fact that it was held in the operations center of NYPD Headquarters sent a strong message that the traffic situation next week, borne out of a need for high security, is no laughing matter.

Another clear sign of the seriousness of the situation was the fact that the commissioner was surrounded by leaders of the FBI, Diplomatic Secret Service, UN Security and top brass from his own department.  

Already this week, hundreds of law enforcement officers are being deployed to the streets surrounding U.N. campus. Their numbers will multiply over the weekend and into early next week, and so will street closures.

Traffic engineer Sam Schwartz said that the shutdowns should promote alternatives to driving.

“This is a good week to try the subway out,” he said about U.N General Assembly week, next week. “It’s been working pretty well of late.”

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