Skip to main content

Was accident on Dean Street caused by increased congestion linked to street closures? Neighbors say yes, as traffic has doubled

We know that Atlantic Yards-related street closures have caused an increase in congestion on certain streets in Prospect Heights, but a car accident?

Residents of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues say aggressive driving, driver frustration, and a long traffic light has made their street more perilous, and they blame the traffic increase in the past two months for a three vehicle accident that occurred May 26 at about 6 pm and blocked the street for some 40 minutes.

(Approximate location of accident marked by oval. Map from mitigation plan. Click on graphics to enlarge.)

That's hard to pin down, and the Empire State Development Corporation says that the accident was not directly related to Atlantic Yards. But it is clear that, at the very least, driving on Dean Street has become much more fraught.

Before the street closures in early March--Fifth Avenue and parts of Pacific Street--it was rare for traffic to back up on Dean during rush hours.

Now that's typical, residents say, with the most intense traffic on weekdays in the late afternoon, as well as in the morning (as per my video) and on Saturday afternoons.

So that's an argument for much closer attention from the authorities.

(I posed several questions on Thursday to the Department of Transportation, but haven't heard back. According to a recent Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, "The new traffic flow, implemented as of March 8, 2010, continues to be monitored by the DOT and private transportation consultants.")

The accident

Dean Street resident David Schlesinger reported: "I heard brakes, sliding on pavement, and then the collision. A car smashed into a van, and a third SUV hit the car, I assume while trying to avoid the accident."

"A woman, I think, was removed from the car by EMTs, put on a stretcher, and taken away by ambulance," he continued. "The EMTs seem to spend a lot of time getting her out of the car. From what I could see the accident was not all that bad, but she did seem badly injured.

"The accident blocked Dean Street for about 40 minutes. Vehicles used the sidewalks to get around the accident. It seemed like a very dangerous situation for pedestrians and cyclist. The police did not arrive on the scene for at least 30 minutes. The police pulled up just as the vehicles involved in the accident were cleared from the street."

"The aftermath was unreal," his neighbor Matt Ingle added. "First they were going up on sidewalk to Vanderbilt. Then ambulances showed up, and people were driving the wrong way down Dean Street [back to Carlton]."

Cause and effect

Did the increase in traffic cause the accident? Schlesinger suggested yes, noting that traffic and congestion have doubled since the street closures. "With the increase, there is so much more stop and go, and it seemed that is what caused the accident," he said.

Ingle is more certain: "Drivers are so full of road rage by the time the get past the intersection of Dean and Carlton they are honking and trying to get through the light at Vanderbilt."

"In the morning it gets bad," he reported. "From 4 to 6 [pm] it gets bad bad." Drivers going right off Carlton--because they have no outlet via the bridge of Pacific Street--wind up vying for position with those going eastward on Dean. "They wind up side by side trying to outrace each other," he said.

"I've lived on this block for 11 years, and it's unbelievable," he said. And Ingle says he can handle the traffic, but "it's the horn-honking that's out of control," making it very unpleasant to sit in the backyard.

I went by twice last week. On Wednesday at 6 pm, the traffic flowed reasonably well; on Friday at 6:30 pm, as noted below, it was busier, with some honking and the line of vehicles along Dean extending nearly the length of the block when waiting for the light to change at Vanderbilt. But it was busier when I filmed on the morning of May 25.

Evening



Morning



Mitigation possible?


Ingle thinks a traffic enforcement agent is needed at Carlton and Dean. (As the map shows, agents are supposed to be placed nearby.)

He also suggested an adjustment in the timing of the long red light at Dean and Vanderbilt.

ESDC comment

Without knowing much about the accident, I asked the Empire State Development Corporation for a comment.

"The police report indicates that a courier service truck hit a car that served to avoid a bicyclist," stated spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell. "Coordinating with Forest City Ratner, we have learned that no one affiliated with the Atlantic Yards was involved; neither our project nor our project vehicles were involved, and none of our personnel were involved. In fact, most of the site is shut down at 6 pm, when this occurred."

I followed up by pointing out that the issue wasn't the direct role of project workers, but congestion caused by the change in traffic patterns. No further comment was forthcoming.

(I've requested the police report.)

What caused the congestion?

The Carlton Avenue Bridge is nearby, but it closed two years ago, without causing an increase in traffic. But in March parts of Pacific Street (between Flatbush and Sixth avenues and between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues) closed, as did Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

I concluded that the cause was the Pacific Street closure, but Dean Street resident Peter Krashes disagrees.

"The best guess for the primary source of the congestion is the closure of Fifth Avenue," he observed. "Traffic used to use Fifth Avenue to avoid the Atlantic/Flatbush intersection, and in an effort to do the same now, they get stuck in congestion on Dean Street instead."

And Krashes sees a lost opportunity to relieve the congestion. "If the Carlton Avenue Bridge were open now as Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation originally promised, or if Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues were still open, then there would be additional options for cars to get back to Atlantic where it is likely many are heading."

He noted that traffic on Atlantic Avenue between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues. "is generally moving smoothly. The traffic just can't reach that spot."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…