Monday, December 04, 2006

Transit-oriented development, except for construction workers

The Atlantic Yards project is being billed as "transit-oriented development," but the project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is notably defensive about a big parking lot for construction workers.

The Park Slope Civic Council commented:
Regarding the interim surface parking lot proposed for Block 1129, the community would best be served if the developer used the Phase I period to test remote parking and alternate transportation methods, rather than encouraging construction personnel to drive to the site.

The Empire State Development Corporation responded:
The project sponsors do not intend to promote parking for construction workers. Extensive research was undertaken for the DEIS to estimate the likely travel patterns and characteristics of construction workers throughout the construction period. This research concluded that a substantial number of construction workers would likely travel via auto, irrespective of the abundance of transit options in the area and the costs associated with driving. To avoid overtaxing nearby on- and off-street facilities, the project sponsors would provide on-site (southern half of Block 1129) parking for construction workers at a fee that is comparable to other parking lots/garages in the area. By charging a fee and also limiting its parking capacity only to accommodate the anticipated demand, the on-site parking facility would help in minimizing the number of construction worker vehicles circulating for on-street parking in the area, while at the same time not encouraging the use of private automobiles as the means of travel to the project site.

Unlike the project operational analysis, no additional environmental benefits would be expected from requiring construction workers to utilize remote parking. Many construction workers bring tools to the project site, which require them to be close to the work areas. In addition, the actual work time per day may be less, because workers may be allowed to clock in at the remote facility and have to be shuttled to the site, thus extending the amount of time to complete the construction of the project. Finally, there is no clear advantage for construction workers to use this remote parking, in light of the baseline traffic and parking conditions during their travel. Hence, this measure would not be expected to reduce the number of workers driving to the site.

(Emphasis added)

Yes, there are reasons why construction workers might want to drive, including early shifts. But would there be incentives other than charging a fee "comparable to other parking lots/garages in the area"?

Do people drive "irrespective" of transit options and costs? Isn't that what the emerging congestion pricing debate is about? And also why the FEIS touts a surcharge for on-site arena parking on game days as a form of congestion pricing?

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