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UN General Assembly brings Trump, world leaders to Manhattan

The major meetings of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly begin Monday and will close many Manhattan streets.

Traffic barricades and gates Friday along First Avenue

Traffic barricades and gates Friday along First Avenue across from United Nations Plaza in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

If you are thinking about driving in midtown Manhattan next week — particularly around the United Nations — seriously reconsider those plans.

With 200 world leaders and dignitaries, including President Donald Trump, attending the 73rd Session of the General Assembly, the NYPD and U.S. Secret Service pull together to make the meeting what Police Commissioner James O’Neill called “one of the well policed and best protected [events] in one of the safest cities in the entire world.”

That means traffic nightmares for those in cars and trucks and even on bicycles. Beginning at about 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday, the streets near the UN will be closed to vehicular traffic, what the city calls Gridlock Alert days.

First Avenue will be shut down from 42nd Street to 48th Street, but the First Avenue tunnel underpass from 41st Street to 48th Street will remain open. On the side streets, 44th through 46th streets will also be closed to vehicles from First Avenue to Second Avenue.

The session runs from Sept. 18 to Oct. 5, with major meetings starting Monday. With an average of about 100 diplomatic motorcades a day plying Manhattan streets — with as many as 189 such processions at a peak — there will be other closings as needed, police said. Bike lanes on First and Second avenues near the UN will be closed as well.

FDR Drive will intermittently close southbound at 63rd Street and northbound at South Ferry, police said. Midtown streets, mainly from Sixth Avenue through Madison Avenue, will also have managed access with no vehicular traffic, officials said.

Chief of Intelligence Tom Galati said the main crush of motorcades at the UN will take place from Monday to Saturday. Although there are no known terrorist threats, police are putting thousands of officers and detectives to work, Galati said. To protect crucial facilities and streets, cops will use 48 sand trucks and 230 pieces of concrete blocks, as well as other barriers, officials said.

O’Neill said at a briefing for reporters Thursday that while it was difficult to estimate the overtime costs for security, the measures wouldn’t affect regular precinct and housing commands.

John Miller, deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, said that in preparation for the UN meeting and after events in the United Kingdom involving deadly biological substances, the department ran tabletop exercises and drills on chemical and biological incidents. 

There are 67 protest demonstrations expected over the week, some at the UN and others at foreign consulates, Galati said. Cops expect some demonstrations at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, which already has a police presence.

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