How a Trump Presidency Will Crush New York City's Traffic Flow
Answer: almost certainly yes.
Is Trump in New York today? If you get around the city by car, you might have to accept you’re not going to move very quickly that day. The President-elect has yet to take office, and New Yorkers already fear the impact of Trump’s residence on Fifth Avenue traffic. The president’s family, alongside the president himself, will be regular visitors to the building, which means an incredible amount of Secret Service personnel controlling nearby traffic. For anybody interested in city planning, the next four years offers a fascinating, challenging scenario.
Consider the times when presidents have previously visited. In 1989, the New York Times reported on fuming motorists, angry that then-President George H. W. Bush’s visit led to First Avenue closing, as well as the northbound lane of Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. When President Obama visited in 2009 to take his wife for dinner, the Secret Service planned the trip out nine days in advance. The NYPD ended up shutting down 44th Street, and it took around 100 federal personnel to secure the area for Obama to go out for one night.
Trump’s visits are going to be tough for New Yorkers. The subways are going to be difficult to navigate, but not necessarily a lost cause. The long-awaited Second Avenue Subway, set to open in its first phase before the end of the year, will help alleviate stress on the 4-5-6 trains on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Similarly, the re-routed Q train will work alongside the F to move nearby tourists away from the area.
For cars, Fifth Avenue is likely out of action. There are ways of getting around this, but some re-routes are going to work out better than others. Here’s Google’s analysis of typical traffic on Monday at 9 a.m.:
The darker lines show heavier traffic, and some clear patterns emerge that you might expect. Mornings on 59th Street are a nightmare, with Queensboro Bridge traffic feeding directly onto the street. Madison Avenue is perhaps less expected. Getting around the chaos will be tough, but counterintuitively, heading towards Seventh Avenue might be one of the best strategies. Just avoid Times Square.
These patterns shift around the weekend. Here’s a typical Sunday at 1 p.m., one of the heaviest traffic points in the day:
As expected, tourist-heavy Seventh Avenue is not such a great idea, but ultra-wide Park Avenue opens up as an ideal way of getting around. The Queensboro Bridge, a major throughpoint for commuters during the week, also shifts into an easier way of escaping the traffic.
These patterns may not hold up when the impact of Secret Service makes itself known, but the best bets are to take a wide route around the area, and check Google Maps on the day before you head out.