Thursday, May 27, 2010

A walk along the Dean Street project border, the path from parking to the arena block; see how the sidewalk narrows, so the state's numbers are off

Today I show two videos, shot on May 22 and May 23, that cover the same ground.

My aim was to show the transition between thriving Vanderbilt Avenue just southeast of the Atlantic Yards site, and the blighted northern border of Dean Street, where Forest City Ratner is using land cleared by demolitions (notable the Ward Bakery) for construction staging and surface parking.

Most notably, the path to the arena block from parking on Dean Street relies on a sidewalk that is very narrow in several segments, far from the "approximately 18 feet" claimed by the Empire State Development Corporation.

(In an attached table, bottom, the ESDC claims that the "effective width" is 11.5 feet on one stretch and 10.5 feet on another stretch. Not so.)

No pictures?

Turning left (west) from Vanderbilt, I continued west along Dean Street, along a fence obscured by fake greenery aimed at blocking views inside.

In the first video, at about four minutes in, when I pointed my camera at gap in the fence, a security guard told me not to take pictures, even though I was on a public street.

A day later, the guards seemed otherwise involved, and didn't bother me.



The route from parking

At Carlton Avenue, I hit part of the Prospect Heights Historic District (north and south, more clearly visible on the second video), and continued west, taking the path that those walking to the arena from the surface parking lot--and, later, underground parking--would take.

What's it going to be like when 1100 cars park at the lot and people are walking along the Dean Street sidewalk west to the arena block? Well, part of Dean Street, east of Carlton Avenue and for a short bit west of Carlton, is reasonably wide, as the screenshot shows.

The state claims (as noted below) that the "sidewalks on Dean Street adjacent to the project site are approximately 18 feet in width." The "effective width" is 11.5 feet on this stretch, according to the table at bottom.

As noted on the second video, the state said that the widening of the crosswalk at Carlton Avenue and Dean Street would sufficiently mitigate the impact of the increase in the surface parking lot from 944 to 1044 spaces.

The addition of 56 more spaces wasn't analyzed, but it should be, given that the mitigation goes only from Level of Service (LOS) E to LOS D.

Narrow sidewalks

As I wrote earlier this month, is widening the crosswalk meaningful when the sidewalk itself can't be enlarged?

The effective sidewalk width on Dean Street between Sixth Avenue and Carlton Avenue is supposed to be 10.5 feet. Not so.

The sidewalk narrowed considerably in the segments flanking row houses, leading to the likelihood of a bottleneck as people approach the arena block, especially where there are trees.

As noted in the table at bottom, the ESDC estimates the second-lightest impact--LOS B--from pedestrians on Dean between Sixth and Carlton. That seems questionable.

Members of the Dean Street Block Association have installed tree guards to protect trees and nurture flowers in the tree beds.

How long will they survive?

NE corner of Dean & Sixth

Because Forest City Ratner is not building as big an arena as originally planned, or four towers around the arena in a tight timetable, they don't need all five buildings on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue for construction staging.

Thus three row houses which were originally slated for eminent domain--and still could be taken in a later phase--survive.



From the FEIS

From Chapter 13 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Transit and Pedestrians:
With full development of the proposed project in 2016, the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue at Dean Street would be significantly adversely impacted by the proposed project, with LOS E conditions in the weekday and Saturday pre-game peak hours. The north crosswalk on 6th Avenue at Dean Street would also be significantly adversely impacted in 2016, operating at LOS E during the Saturday pre-game peak hour. (See Chapter 19, “Mitigation.”) All other analyzed crosswalks, and all analyzed sidewalks and corner areas would continue to operate at acceptable levels of service in all analyzed peak hours in both 2010 and 2016.

The analysis of pedestrian conditions focuses on those pedestrian elements—sidewalks, corner areas, and crosswalks—that would be utilized by substantial numbers of new project-generated trips, or that would be physically altered as a result of development of the proposed project. Figure 13-4 shows the locations of the pedestrian elements selected for analysis of potential project impacts. The locations selected would typically serve as key links between the project site and the surrounding street system, and/or would be used by concentrations of project- generated pedestrian demand linked to other modes (such as en route to subway stations, bus stops or off-site parking garages). As shown in Figure 13-4, elements selected for analysis include sidewalks adjoining the project site along Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Dean Street, and Vanderbilt Avenue. In addition to serving as the primary pathways for general pedestrian access between the project site and the surrounding street system, these corridors would be used by pedestrians en route to and from the proposed new entrance to the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street subway station complex at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, as well as for access to bus routes that operate along these corridors. Existing sidewalk widths along Atlantic Avenue adjacent to the project site are typically 10 to 12 feet, while sidewalks along Flatbush and Vanderbilt Avenues are typically 18 to 20 feet in width. The sidewalks on Dean Street adjacent to the project site are approximately 18 feet in width.

...It should be noted that the analysis of sidewalk conditions is based on the “effective width” which is the width actually available to accommodate pedestrian flow. Along many analyzed sidewalks, the effective width is reduced by the presence of trees, building stoops, light poles, signs, and other street furniture.
(Emphasis added)

The table (click to enlarge)

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