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Why did the Flatbush Avenue lane closure get extended until "Summer 2012"? A not-quite-explanation surfaces

So, why did a lane closure on Flatbush Avenue between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue for the Atlantic Yards project get extended from "early 2012" to "Summer 2012," as we learned last week in a Forest City Ratner mailer?

The answer I got from the Empire State Development Corporation was not quite an explanation, and, as of today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) still states, on its page of Weekly Traffic Advisories (excerpt at right), that the lane closure is expected to "continue through early 2012."

From "early" to "Summer"

Let's recap. The original announcement, in late July, was "early 2012." Given Forest City Ratner and the ESDC the benefit of the doubt, I said the announcement of "Summer 2012" meant at least 17 months, to the beginning of January 2012.

Given that "early 2012" could extend through the end of the first quarter, I should have also suggested it could extend to the end of March, which would have been 20 months.

By no stretch of the imagination is the summer the "early" part of the year, so the extension to "Summer 2012" is at least three months (based on an end-of-March deadline for the previous estimate) and at most six months (based on a beginning-of-January deadline for the previous estimate), assuming that "Summer" means June 2012.

Of course, if "Summer" means September, add three more months.

Looking for an explanation

I asked the ESDC and the DOT if they had any explanation for the change from "early 2012" to "Summer 2012."

I haven't heard back from the DOT.

ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded:
The lanes of traffic may be able to be restored a few months before the transit entrance and the arena open in the second quarter of 2010. We have been told that FCRC will restore whatever they can back to the public domain for vehicles and pedestrians as soon as possible.
That doesn't answer the question. What it sounds like is this:
  • Forest City Ratner originally said "early 2012."
  • They want some flexibility, so now they say "Summer 2012."
  • If work proceeds on schedule, they can beat their goal and be "early."
That recalls... Forest City Ratner's plan to increase projected size of Atlantic Yards, only to garner overstated headlines with a scaleback.

Arena opening: summer or fall?

Also, it's hardly clear that the arena would open for use--as opposed to testing--in the second quarter of 2012.

In April, FCR executive MaryAnne Gilmartin said in an affidavit:
Furthermore, it takes at least three to four months to commission an arena like Barclays Center--i.e., to test and refine the various buildings systems and the various operations (such as security and food services) that must be performing properly and efficiently before the arena can be opened for the professional basketball season. In other words, it is essential that the arena be completed by early July 2012, so that the commission process can be completed by the opening of the basketball season in October 2012.

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