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Transition Meetings Create Traffic Nightmare Near Trump Tower

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Since Donald Trump's victory last week, the streets around his Fifth Avenue home and office have been full of cops and concrete barriers disrupting traffic and making life complicated for the people who live there. From member station WNYC in New York, Stephen Nessen takes us to Trump Tower.

STEPHEN NESSEN, BYLINE: Outside the dark, mirrored building are dozens of police officers, many with long guns. There's a Byzantine maze of barricades making life miserable for lunch delivery guys and bike messengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK, everybody, it's a gate there. You can't go through that.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You go on the other side of the street.

NESSEN: The front of Trump Tower is lined with waist-high concrete blocks.

ZOE STARK: I mean sometimes we can't cross the street.

NESSEN: Fifty-four-year-old Zoe Stark - she works at a law firm a block away.

STARK: We certainly can't use 56th Street ever. That's always closed. Traffic in and out of here if we take cabs is horrendous. Yeah, I mean the whole vibe and flow of the area's been disrupted.

NESSEN: Stark was already devastated by the election.

STARK: I find it very disheartening and discomfiting to come and leave work every day in what feels like a militarized zone for something that is in my opinion completely un-American and not worth our tax dollars, especially those of us who pay taxes.

NESSEN: While Stark can just scuttle a few blocks away to grab a taxi, that's harder for 66-year-old Pierna Lucca. She hobbles down the street using a walker. She has leukemia and was still told she couldn't grab a taxi on Fifth Avenue.

PIERNA LUCCA: It's very hard for me. And they don't care. They don't care how you're feeling.

NESSEN: Despite the heavy security, Trump Tower remains a top tourist destination and is open to the public. Fifty-year-old British tourist Kathy Tointon was able to pop in for breakfast.

And how was breakfast in the Trump Tower?

KATHY TOINTON: Very nice, thank you (laughter).

NESSEN: What did you have?

TOINTON: Just a muffin and coffee.

NESSEN: She says coming out of the restaurant, there was a scrum of media.

TOINTON: It's a bit strange having all the news reporters and cameras pointing at you the whole time.

NESSEN: One place that isn't crowded is the three-story Gucci flagship store in Trump Tower. It's virtually empty. It's where I meet 21-year-old Chris Salmon, who's treating himself to a pair of colorful sneakers that cost more than $500. He says it was a pain getting through all the security to get into his favorite store.

CHRIS SALMON: I live in Jersey, and to come all the way from Jersey out here to New York City to experience all of this, it's a little annoying.

ANTHONY ROZZO: (Foreign language spoken). There you go.

NESSEN: It may be a pain for Salmon, but the inconvenience of so many closed side roads and security is costing businesses real money. Anthony Rozzo delivers fresh imported fish to high-end Midtown restaurants.

ROZZO: I used to do this, like, in three, three and a half hours. Now it's double.

NESSEN: He says the area can get congested around the holidays, but he has never seen it as bad as this.

ROZZO: I mean you got Central Park right there. You got Rockefeller there. I mean this a main artery in the city - to close like that...

NESSEN: Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to make an announcement tomorrow about how the city will deal with the traffic. For NPR News, I'm Stephen Nessen in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.