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What to expect from NYC’s UN General Assembly traffic mess


The United Nations General Assembly is back — and with it, bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Bus routes will be disrupted and roads closed — sometimes without notice — generally turning Midtown into a gridlock nightmare for drivers all week while world leaders convene on First Avenue between 42nd and 48th streets.

Average car speeds sink to 4 mph during General Assembly week — dragging out a mile drive to 20 minutes, according to city transportation officials. The NYPD is urging New Yorkers and visitors to take mass transit or bike since Midtown street traffic is expected to grind to a halt.

President Biden is expected in the city after he attends Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London. His speech, which typically would’ve been given Tuesday, is set for Wednesday.

The United Nations General Assembly is expected to bring heavy traffic to Manhattan this week.
The United Nations General Assembly is expected, once again, to bring heavy traffic to Manhattan this week.
Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Transit and transportation officials warn this is what you can expect through Sept. 23:

Vehicle traffic:

“Gridlock Alert Days” have been designated for Sept. 19-23 by the city Department of Transportation.

Numerous roadways will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, including First Avenue between 42nd and 48th streets, and 44th to 46th streets between First and Second avenues.

Parking will be permitted on 48th Street between Lexington and Park avenues, 49th Street from First to Fifth avenues, and 50th and 51st streets from Park to Madison avenues.

The FDR Drive will also be subject to “intermittent” unplanned closures, while other streets nearby will have fewer traffic lanes than usual.

A driver’s best bet is to avoid Midtown entirely — and certainly avoid getting anywhere near Biden, who’s likely to come with a large entourage.

Traffic restricted on 24th Street in Manhattan due to the UN assembly.
Traffic restricted on 24th Street in Manhattan due to the UN assembly.
Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images
Numerous roadways will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, including First Avenue between 42nd and 48th streets, and 44th to 46th streets between First and Second avenues.
Numerous roadways will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday, including First Avenue between 42nd and 48th streets, and 44th to 46th streets between First and Second Avenues.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Bus service:

Riders should expect delays on all buses operating in Manhattan, with detours on a number of routes:

  • Northbound M15-SBS buses will not make stops on First Avenue from 39th Street to Mitchell Place through Friday.
  • M50 buses will begin and end at 50th Street and Second Avenue.
  • Express bus stops will be closed throughout Midtown. Check the MTA’s planned service changes page for your route.
President Joe Biden will also be arriving in New York to give a speech at the assembly.
President Biden will be arriving in New York to give a speech at the General Assembly.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images
A temporary bike lane will also run southbound on Second Avenue between East 47th  and East 41st streets until 9 p.m.
A temporary bike lane will also run southbound on Second Avenue between East 47th and East 41st streets until 9 p.m.
G.N.Miller/NYPost

Bike lanes:

The city will stage temporary bike lanes on First and Second avenues for the week, as it has since 2019. Neither route requires a detour.

Cyclists northbound on First Avenue will pass a security checkpoint at 39th Street, and will be able to pedal up to East 49th Street on a temporary bike lane through the First Avenue Tunnel from East 40th Street. The lane will remain open around the clock.

A temporary bike lane will also run southbound on Second Avenue between East 47th and East 41st streets until 9 p.m. The existing bike lane is set aside for dignitaries and emergency vehicles.

Both streets are “subject to security checkpoints & traffic freezes,” the DOT said.



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