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The Dean Street Squeeze: widening the crosswalks won't help sidewalks never built for arena crowds

Call it the Dean Street squeeze.

The main path to the arena from the 1100-space interim surface parking lot in the Atlantic Yards site will be along residential Dean Street.

The parking lot will be located between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. The arena will be located west of Sixth Avenue.

Between Carlton and Sixth avenues, however, the route would get very tight, given that the sidewalk narrows to less than six feet in places, as shown above and in the photos below.

That's not what the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) says; it describes the "effective width" as 10.5 feet.

The bottom line: people will be tramping in tree beds and walking in the street.

(Photo by Tracy Collins, part of a set taken 4/17/10 when the Dean Street Block Association put up tree guards as part of a beautification day. Slideshow here.)

The crosswalks fix

The parking lot will be located in the southeast block in red, bounded by Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific streets. (Map also by Collins.) Pedestrians would walk west along the border of the parking lot, and then the portion of Dean Street not part of the project.

To accommodate the overburdened crosswalk at Carlton and Dean, the ESDC agreed in 2006 to expand the crosswalk. When the parking lot was expanded last year, the ESDC again expanded the crosswalk.

The parking lot has again been expanded, without any attendant crosswalk revision, but, either way, the exercise is ridiculous.

Like water squeezed in a bag, the flow has to emerge somewhere. And that somewhere is Dean Street.

Consider that the ESDC states that the sidewalk is "approximately 18 feet," with 10.5 feet of effective width on the block between Carlton and Sixth.

Not so.

(Click on all graphics to enlarge.)

New pedestrian trips

From Chapter 13 of the ESDC's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Transit and Pedestrians:
Also of note are the north crosswalks on 6th and Carlton Avenues at Dean Street... which would experience increases of up to 528 new trips in the peak 15 minutes during the Saturday 1-2 PM pre-game period when substantial numbers of pedestrians would be en route to the arena from a temporary 944-space parking facility that would be located on Block 1129.
Note that the parking facility now would have 1100 spaces, an increase of 156 spaces, or 16.5 %. To extrapolate, an increase of 16.5% would increase the number of trips from 528 to 615 in the peak 15 minutes. Maybe that's overstated, because according to the ESDC, an increase of 100 spaces would result in only 32 to 36 pedestrians.

And in 2016 (or when the project's finished)?
Also of note are the north crosswalks on 6th and Carlton Avenues at Dean Street... which would experience increases of up to 745 trips in the peak 15 minutes, primarily during the weekday 7-8 PM and Saturday 1-2 PM pre-game periods when substantial numbers of pedestrians would be en route to the arena from the proposed 1,970-space [underground] parking garage that would be located on Block 1129.
Impact on crosswalks

The ESDC acknowledged significant impact, at least on the crosswalks, but only at project completion (at the time of FEIS, projected to be 2016), when the parking lot nearly doubles.

As for the completion of the arena and the first phase (originally projected to be 2010), the crosswalk condition was projected to be only Level of Service (LOS) D, which is acceptable.

By 2016, it would get worse:
As shown in Table 13-52, in the 2016 Build condition, two crosswalks would deteriorate to LOS E from LOS A in the 2016 No Build—the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue at Dean Street (X21) in the weekday and Saturday pre-game peak hours, and the north crosswalk on 6th Avenue at Dean Street (X24) in the Saturday pre-game peak hour only.
These two crosswalks would therefore be significantly adversely impacted during these periods under CEQR criteria. Mitigation for these significant adverse impacts is discussed in Chapter 19, “Mitigation.”
Mitigation efforts: expand crosswalk
The solution is to increase the width of the crosswalks, so as to move from LOS E to LOS D. From Chapter 19, Mitigation:
NORTH CROSSWALK ON CARLTON AVENUE AT DEAN STREET
Pedestrian demand generated by the proposed project would significantly adversely impact the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue at Dean Street in the weekday 7-8 PM pre-game and Saturday 1-2 PM pre-game peak periods in 2016. Much of this new pedestrian demand would be en route between the arena and parking that would be provided on Block 1129. In 2016, the level of service would deteriorate to LOS E in both the weekday pre-game and Saturday pre-game periods compared to LOS A during both periods in the 2016 No Build. To address these impacts, it is proposed to widen the crosswalk to 20 feet in width from 16 feet in width in the 2016 Build condition. As shown in Table 19-11, with this widening, the north crosswalk would operate at LOS D in the weekday and Saturday pre-game peak periods, with an average of 17.3 and 15.4 square feet per pedestrian during these periods, respectively. The potential significant adverse impacts to this crosswalk resulting from the proposed project in 2016 would therefore be fully mitigated.
Similarly, the north crosswalk on Sixth Avenue at Dean Street would be widened.

The parking lot expands, crosswalks widen

The June 2009 Technical Memorandum considered the increase in the size of the parking lot, and the solution was the widen the crosswalks by one foot each:
As noted above, the relocation of up to 100 spaces of parking capacity from the arena block to Block 1129 under the proposed design development would result in the addition of 32 to 36 pedestrians to each of these two crosswalks in the peak 15 minutes of each peak hour in the weekday and Saturday pre-game peak periods. To accommodate this additional demand, the design development includes the widening of the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue at Dean Street and the north crosswalk on 6th Avenue at Dean Street by an additional one-foot each. Widening the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue from 20 feet in width (in the FEIS Build with Mitigation condition) to 21 feet and the north crosswalk on 6th Avenue from 17 feet in width to 18 feet would maintain each of these crosswalks at an acceptable LOS D, with more than 15 square feet/pedestrian in each peak hour. Therefore, with the proposed further one-foot increase in the width of the north crosswalk on Carlton Avenue at Dean Street and the similar one-foot increase in the width of the north crosswalk on 6th Avenue at Dean Street (compared to the FEIS Build with Mitigation condition), the additional pedestrian demand generated by the relocated parking would be accommodated.
And where will they walk?

The other day, I asked Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association to help measure the width of the sidewalk at various points, as I took photos. All photos are on the north side of Dean between Carlton and Sixth, except as indicated.

At crosswalk at Carlton and Dean: 18'


Just west of crosswalk: 12'6" to cobblestones around tree


South side of Dean, across the street: 6'2"


Moving west along Dean: 6'6"

To light pole: 8'


Toward the middle of the block: 5'10"


In front of Temple of the Restoration: 6'10"



South side of Dean, outside playground: 10'



Outside firehouse on south side of Dean, near Sixth and arena block


Outside bodega on south side of Dean near Sixth: 8'


Back on north side of Dean, near Sixth, looking east: 7'


Same spot, looking west toward arena block: 7'


South Side of Pacific Street east of Sixth (opposite arena block): 18'


North side of Pacific Street:5'10"




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