Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What happened to trees on the Atlantic Avenue median opposite the arena? They were in the FEIS visuals but not in the text

The Atlantic Yards Watch web site, in a posting prompted by last week's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, highlights a discussion I didn't cover:
When asked about plantings on the raised median planned for Atlantic Avenue east of Flatbush, Forest City Ratner project manager Jane Marshall stated there would only be a poured concrete median. Ms. Marshall said that the existence of LIRR tracks beneath Atlantic Avenue made it impossible to include planting beds on the median. Councilmember Tish James pointed out that Park Avenue in Manahattan has railroad tracks running beneath it from Grand Central to north of 96th Street. Ms. Marshall quickly replied that the supports beneath Park Avenue were stronger.

A planted median certainly seemed possible at the time the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] was issued. A rendering of Atlantic Avenue looking west from Sixth Avenue shows a row of shrubs and trees separating lanes of traffic on Atlantic Avenue. And an aerial landscape plan also shows trees on the median between Flatbush and Sixth.
(Click on graphic to enlarge and clarify)Why is this important?
Enhancing the Atlantic Avenue streetscape with a planted median as originally intended could not only soften the impact of the arena, but could also serve as a more effective barrier to discourage pedestrians from crossing Atlantic Avenue mid-block, thereby improving pedestrian safety.
Visuals vs. text

Then again, as Atlantic Yards Watch, via Gib Veconi, points out, landscape architect Laurie Olin, whose firm produced the renderings, left the project more than two years ago.

And it may be that no one expected Olin's designs to be more than "conceptual."

After all, I'd add, there seems to be a discrepancy between the visuals attached to the Final EIS and the text, which, in Chapter 12, Traffic & Parking, mentions a median but not plantings:
The south sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue would be set back between Flatbush Avenue and Fort Greene Place to accommodate creation of an 8-foot-wide lay-by lane adjacent to the arena block. Three eastbound through-lanes would be provided along this block along with four westbound lanes (three through and one right-turn-only). East of Fort Greene Place, Atlantic Avenue would be reconfigured to operate with three travel lanes and a single 10-foot-wide parking lane in each direction, plus an 8- to 15-foot-wide raised median. (The existing 21-foot-wide double parking lane along the north curb adjacent to the Atlantic Center mall would be reduced in width.) The eastbound and westbound left-turn bays at 6th Avenue/South Portland Avenue would be maintained.

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