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Fate of Times Square pedestrian malls up in air

The fate of the Times Square pedestrian malls may not be known until long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

City officials are weighing whether the changes — a $1.5 million experiment to unclog car traffic that began in May and also involves the Herald Square area — should be made permanent. The mayor's office was to review the pilot program by year's end before making a final decision, but as of Tuesday, was still waiting on a report from from the city transportation department.

“It’s better for everyone ultimately for a decision to be made one way or another, sooner rather than later,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which has found mixed responses to the project and is submitting its own review to the city within weeks.

Some New Yorkers say the changes should stay. “It’s a good idea, having somewhere to sit. And it’s good for tourism.” said Cintia Castro, 15, a Brooklyn native who doesn’t mind seeing tourists lounge on Broadway where taxicabs once whizzed.

The pilot program’s benefits to pedestrians have been a bonus, said Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna. The objective was to decrease car traffic by creating a grid system of streets, he explained.

That goal hasn’t been achieved, some drivers argued. “Even before this I thought it was horrible, but now it’s even worse,” said Aderet Hoch, 20, a Manhattan resident who regularly picks up her sister in the area. “It takes forever to drive around Times Square.”

Chris James contributed to this story.

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