Thursday, August 21, 2008

60,000 vehicles daily at Flatbush and Atlantic? A closer look

A couple of AYR readers yesterday were taken aback by the claim, on the Barclays Center web site, that 60,000 vehicles pass (or will pass) daily through the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, thus providing a prime location for the Jones Soda Stoop & Adjacent Terrace.

Do 60,000 vehicles really pass through that intersection now--or would they do so later? The short answer is that evidence is inconclusive, since the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, didn't aim at cumulative vehicle counts but rather at whether traffic during peak hours could be mitigated. (Answer: traffic at a.m. peak hours would have significant impacts at 11 intersections even after mitigation efforts.)

However, Community Consulting Services, which provided the graphic at right, has steadily contended that the ESDC's report lowballed the cumulative impact of development on traffic and transit. (The ESDC responded.)

FCR's conundrum

Developer Forest City Ratner must have conflicting impulses. On the one hand, they want to minimize the amount of new traffic so not to cause traffic jams and other adverse impacts. On the other hand, the more vehicles, the more eyeballs delivered to arena partners and advertisers.

ESDC punts

According to the Response to Comments chapter, the total number of trips wasn't important:

Consistent with CEQR Technical Manual methodology, the traffic analysis in the DEIS analyzed 7 peak hours to assess reasonable worst-case traffic conditions resulting from the proposed project and was not based on total vehicle trips per day since that figure is not appropriate for assessing worst-case conditions.


According to Table 12-27 (click on graphics to enlarge), the total trips at weekday peak hours (914 + 626 + 1590 + 5369 + 5749) adds up to 14,248. That, obviously, doesn't encompass the whole day, nor any specific intersection.

(The other two peak hours analyzed were on weekdays.)

Estimates elsewhere

A January 2006 New York Times article on AY-related traffic stated:
The Atlantic Yards project would lead to 40,000 new vehicle trips through the area each weekday, according to an independent study by Community Consulting Services, a transportation and environmental consulting firm advocating better traffic planning in Brooklyn.

Forest City Ratner officials disputed that study, saying that it overstated the vehicle trip increase by 40 percent to 50 percent, in part by failing to subtract trips generated by homes and businesses that would be replaced by the project.


Comments submitted to the ESDC by Community Consulting Services' Brian Ketcham, dated 4/25/05, estimate 59,000 new vehicle trips from current development approved over the last decade, 33,500 trips from yet unbuilt development under the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, and 23,000 new trips from the then-configuration of the Atlantic Yards project, for a total of 115,500 trips.

How many trips that would mean daily at the all-important intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush, however, remains a mystery to me--and, apparently, to the ESDC.

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