Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why will railyard floodlights be illuminated at night? Because the policy changed

As I wrote yesterday, it seems quite possible that floodlights at the railyard will be illuminated until 11 pm for many months, through next summer.

That leads to scenes (via Atlantic Yards Watch) such as the illumination (at 7 pm) as seen from the Newswalk building on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues..



The policy regarding the lights has apparently changed, as Peter Krashes notes on Atlantic Yards Watch, in Nighttime use of railyard floodlights may continue until September 2012:
According to ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin, LIRR and the FCRC contractors working on the Carlton Avenue Bridge are negotiating an agreement for the use of the lights that includes extending construction work hours. The rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is not a LIRR project, although its completion is dependent on various elements of railyard construction being finished. The lights are planned to be used until reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is complete, which must be prior to the time the arena opens in September 2012. It is unclear to what extent the lights will be used when construction in Vanderbilt Railyard continues with the replacement of the permanent railyard. It is anticipated to be complete in 2016.

Although the work currently taking place only involves a small number of workers in limited locations, all of the lights in the yard are turned on. On Tuesday, December 6 the lights were left on until 3:30 AM without notice to the community. On December 13 only some of the lamps on each lightpole were turned on at night, lessening the brightness outside the perimeter of the project's footprint. By December 14, all lamps were on once again.
A belated Forest City response

About a week after an inquiry via the Community Liaison's voice mail, Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte answered AY Watch, in part:
The lights are required to provide visibility for the workers, and to ensure safe working conditions. To minimize the impact to those adjacent to the yard, the lights are directed downward and into the Yard, and away from residential buildings.
However, as noted by Krashes:
Residents note that while the lights are directed downward, spillage on the sides of the lights is intense and flows directly into nearby residences. No adjustments to the floodlights redirecting their beams away from residential building have been made to compensate for their increased use.
Previous warning

Were residents warned that lights would be used in this way? No, according to a 12/2/11 AY Watch posting headlined Entire railyard is illuminated for construction mornings and nights, including outside of scheduled construction hours:
The lights were installed in 2010 for railyard operation and repairs, not to facilitate construction by extending construction hours. As far as we can tell, the use of lights to extend construction hours is not addressed in any environmental analysis for the project. The Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments only addresses lighting for interim construction staging and parking. For those uses the lights are to be directional to limit light intrusion beyond the site, and they are ". . . to be employed to reduce lighting during periods when the facility is not in active use, consistent with site security."(AMEC, p.15)
Representatives of Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt raised the use of the lights with LIRR during a meeting in the spring of 2010.... At the meeting LIRR reassured the community representatives the lights would be used only rarely for work that could not be done during the day because of conflict with railyard operation. The use of the lights for railyard or Carlton Avenue Bridge construction was not mentioned as a possibility. At this time in the project's implementation the temporary railyard has been moved to its new location on the east side of the LIRR/MTA property, but has not yet been covered.
Commented one resident of the Newswalk condominium across from the railyard:
The lights in Atlantic Yards directly across from my Newswalk apartment are blindingly intense. They come on often at 5:00 PM and are on late making it difficult to sleep. I look out the windows to see who is working but don't see anyone. Why are these lights disturbing hundreds of people for so many hours for apparently no good reason. What is the purpose for this invasion of our space.

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