Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A bad day on Pacific Street: trucks in a jam, major delays, unprepared contractors; will it happen again?

A two-hour delay on Pacific Street. Vehicles driving on the sidewalk. 45 minutes of truck repairs. A school bus that had to back up more than a block along Pacific to Vanderbilt Avenue. Unprepared contractors.

So it was on April 27, as shown in a video shot by a Prospect Heights resident. The focus is on Pacific between Carlton and Sixth avenues, a block that contains the Newswalk condo building and--unlike the blocks of Pacific Street to the east and west--remains a public street.



What happened?

Empire State Development Corporation spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell, after checking with Forest City Ratner, responded, "I have confirmed that immediate corrective action was taken that day. The contractors were told that every day they must have two dispatchers that stage the trucks and communicate by radio and be fully informed of their responsibilities; one is responsible for managing between Vanderbilt and Carlton and one on the arena block site alerting the first dispatcher when space on the site is available and when to release truck(s) from Pacific and Carlton."

"That day, one of the dispatchers was substituting for the regular guy and there was a breakdown in communication. I think the substituted individual was also unaware that LIRR has a curb cut on the north side of Pacific just east of sixth. LIRR vehicles ONLY are permitted to turn onto Pacific eastbound to enter their yard and thus have to cross in front of the one westbound traffic including the trucks headed toward the arena site. In addition, while the LIRR should have informed their contractors (which are NOT Forest City Ratner contractors) and staff to only access their yard from the west, apparently some of their equipment drivers still approach from the east obeying DOT's change of street direction. In that situation a piece of large equipment has to make a five point turn blocking traffic in both directions for about five minutes. In addition to that, on that day [footprint resident] Dan Goldstein was still in occupancy on the arena block and the fence went up the middle of Pacific Street meaning that FCRC contractors only had one lane access to and from the arena, meaning that coordination of truck entering and leaving was constrained. In short, there were several confounding factors on that day."

Some skepticism

The resident who shot the video was skeptical, noting that the dispatchers told him they relied on flags rather than radio.

Beyond that, he pointed out, there was no excuse for driving on the sidewalk and blocking traffic for truck repairs.

Will such problems recur as construction ramps up? Stay tuned.

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