Monday, February 01, 2010

So, will the DOT close Fifth Avenue today in the AY footprint? They seem undeterred by stalled case (unless they just didn't get to all the signage)

Update 8:30 am: Fifth Avenue remains open, but the signs weren't immediately changed. The signs were not, it turns out, placed by the Department of Transportation but by Forest City Ratner.

Is a street in the Atlantic Yards footprint still going to be closed today?

The evidence isn't conclusive, but signs suggest that the city Department of Transportation (DOT) may go ahead with cooperating in the closing Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues--Forest City Ratner's priority.

In court Friday, Charles Webb, a lawyer for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) told state Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges, "We will not even ask that they [streets] be closed until after vesting [of title]."

Gerges, however, put his decision on hold, so there was no transfer of title.

I concluded that the ESDC would not ask for streets to be closed-but I couldn't get a confirmation from the agency on Friday afternoon. (I should've contacted DOT, apparently; I sent questions yesterday. I have heard differing accounts on whether the issue was DOT's to decide.)

The signage announcing the closure of Fifth Avenue remained unchanged Friday afternoon and over the weekend. Nor could I get a prediction from a police officer and traffic agent I queried yesterday at Fifth and Flatbush avenues.

(Update: I'm told the signage was not placed by the DOT.)

Interestingly enough, there seems to be no immediate plan to close the two sections of Pacific Street, given that digital signs on Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues promote the Fifth Avenue closing rather than the more nearby Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt.

Webb's statement came in response to concerns raised by a lawyer for a business on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt; however, his response to encompass all the streets.

(Photos by Tracy Collins of signage along Carlton Avenue)

Any ambiguity?

The official community notice, reprinted in full-page ads in Brooklyn weekly newspapers this weekend, states that sections of Fifth Avenue and Pacific Street would close "Beginning on or around February 1, 2010."

That ambiguity has been lost in the DOT's digital signage, which for weeks has warned of the closing of Fifth Avenue on February 1.

On film

The signage below was filmed yesterday on Flatbush Avenue and then on Vanderbilt Avenue.




Preparations made

The ESDC--and/or developer Forest City Ratner--had weeks ago passed on instructions to the DOT regarding street closings.

That's why public meetings have been held in anticipation of such closings.

"The bed of Fifth Avenue, there's a massive amount of utility work that has to be done for us to start the arena, and we're doing some of it now," Forest City Ratner Senior VP Jane Marshall said on January 21. "But we have to close Fifth Avenue to do that utility work."

What next?

And, she was asked, what if title didn't pass at the January 29 hearing? "We have discussed with DOT the ability to ask for them to be closed in any case, but they'd have to grant that," Marshall said.

How would that work?

"I don't know," Marshall responded a little whimsically. "I ask, they say yes, I don't know."

We still don't know.

But either DOT will close the streets today--and set up the possibility of some further legal challenges--or it will have to adjust its signage.

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