Monday, January 30, 2012

What's going on here? Noisy, chaotic congestion during (unannounced) overnight work at Atlantic and Sixth avenues (updated: It was LIRR)

Update 4:50 pm: Arana Hankin of Empire State Development responds:
The work that was occurring this weekend was being done by the LIRR and had nothing to do with Atlantic Yards. The LIRR is typically very good at notifying us of work that they need to do after hours so that we can inform the community, especially when it relates to Atlantic Yards. But apparently there was an emergency situation in the yard this weekend and they had to get in there very quickly.
[I'm not so sure it was an emergency, given that the permits for a crane were issued 11 days earlier.]

****

It was a very busy Saturday night at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, but the street closure, noise, confusion, and heightened danger were not predicted in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/16/12, that was distributed by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

Though no weekend third shift work was announced, the documentation appears in two postings on Atlantic Yards Watch.

On Saturday afternoon, January 28, trucks dropped off transformers that were later to be lowered into the Vanderbilt Yard. The trucks positioned themselves on the south side of Atlantic, east of Sixth Avenue, thus taking up a lane used as a bus stop.



In the evening

As noted in the video below, which begins at about 11 pm, the congested traffic led to some untoward consequences



The camera, which starts on Pacific Street east of Sixth avenue, at first moves to Sixth, passing an open gate to the Vanderbilt Yard, then goes north up Sixth to Atlantic.

As seen in the screenshot at right, Atlantic Avenue is occupied by construction-related equipment, with cones marking off the area.

The video shoes that there's a flagger in middle of Atlantic Avenue, but the flagger--as at 3:17 of the video--does not always direct traffic.

At about 4:05 of the video, drivers among the southbound traffic on South Portland Avenue (the extension of Sixth north of Atlantic), begin prolonged horn honking to indicate their displeasure with the situation.

A stall on Sixth

Meanwhile, northbound traffic on Sixth Avenue starts to get backed up, at about 4:30 of the video. Some cars, like the one in the screenshot at left, even start making illegal U-turns. In the background, the under-construction Barclays Center is visible.

At about 5:10 of the video, drivers even crowd the intersection--a key intersection when the arena opens, which raises questions of how well it will be managed.

A woman looking for the bus stop finds it unavailable.

More confusion

This next video shows continued frustration and confusion experienced by drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.



For example, at about 0:17, a bicyclist coming south turns onto the Sixth Avenue sidewalk to avoid a collision with northbound traffic

As  in the screenshot at right, at about 1:25, a construction worker has to move quickly to avoid the southbound bicyclist.

There's a significant amount amount of horn honking and aggressive driving, as at about 2:57 of the video.

What happens when a fire truck travels north on Sixth Avenue (presumably coming from the station house on Dean Street just east of the arena site)?

As seen in the screenshot at left, at about 3:59, the truck has to wiggle through some significant congestion.

A bit later in the video, workers bring out cones and barriers to protect the crane located on Atlantic just west of Sixth Avenue.

But Sixth Avenue is a narrow street, with relatively little margin for error, so when an obstruction (the crane) meets a complication (a large vehicle), which itself faces its own complication (another vehicle), things get dicey, as detailed at about 6:05 of the video.

Enter the tour bus

As seen in the screenshot at right, a tour bus going east on Atlantic wanted to turn right (southbound) on Sixth.

It had to overshoot somewhat to get around the crane, and as it turned, it came quite close to the passenger vehicle that had been going northbound on Sixth and was turning right on Atlantic.

What happens if and when large vehicles are using Sixth Avenue on the day of an arena event? Sure, there will be traffic agents in place, but an unanticipated event--say a breakdown of a vehicle--could have ripple effects.

What was the result?

At about 5:30 am, as detailed in the screenshot at left and the video below it, transformers were lowered into place.

What exactly will they be used for? Why wasn't this all announced?

I'll update this when I learn more.

And the next Construction Alert, for the two weeks beginning today, should be issued today or tomorrow.

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