Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Report: schedule indicates Carlton Avenue Bridge delayed, but could meet arena opening date thanks to overtime; ESDC says "mitigation plan" reference incorrect; arena still on schedule for September 5; transit connection slips to mid-August

The Carlton Avenue Bridge is still scheduled to be completed on 10/3/12, five days after the first event at the Barclays Center, but, according to a report from the construction monitor for the arena bond trustee, Forest City Ratner is paying overtime to meet the completion date, and also has asked the city Department of Transportation for the OK to open the bridge with temporary street lighting and railing.

The report, dated 6/4/12 and based on a site visit 4/26/12 and a later document review, was issued by Merritt & Harris, which reports to the bond trustee, developer Forest City Ratner, and the Empire State Development Corporation.

The report also states, "Nevertheless, the Empire State Development (ESD) has requested that FCRC propose a mitigation plan to control and alleviate the traffic flow congestion for the first event at the arena, scheduled for September 28, 2012."

Is that so? Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, ESD, told me the report was wrong. Merritt & Harris, she suggested, might be referring to the Transportation Demand Management plan (TDM) developed by Forest City.

Then again, the TDM plan refers to arena activities in general, not "the first event at the arena."

I queried Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, who also did not confirm the Merritt & Harris account. "As the report indicates we remain confident that we can meet the opening date and are looking at some temporary measures too to ensure that the bridge is operational when the arena opens," he stated. "We will be developing event specific traffic and transportation plans for every event."

Forest City is contractually obligated to ensure that the bridge is open before the arena opens, but the penalty is rather toothless: freezing of the developer's rights to move forward on any new residential development--which is already delayed.

Arena schedule

The report, after finally analyzing an ultimately not-so-mysterious GMP2 [Guaranteed Maximum Price], indicates that the arena remains on schedule for a substantial completion of 9/5/12, providing some 23 days to test the building before it opens.

The final completion date remains 6/30/13.

Transit Connection

The adjacent Transit Connection, once supposed to be finished by 4/2/12, is now scheduled for 7/14/12--though the monitor suggests that "a mid-August completion date is more realistic."

Given that the Transit Connection will open in conjunction with the Arena--why not open it somewhat earlier--the report says the slippage "will have no impact on the overall project schedule."

The reason for slippage is said to be "early delays," but, as I've written, the early delays were overcome.

Number of workers down

According to the report, there were 490 people working on the arena and 48 working on the Transit Connection, a decrease attributed to the "substantial completion of the steel work."

That's a decrease from the previous report, which counted 520 and 62 workers respectively, and likely the one before that. Note that Merritt & Harris does not count workers at the separate railyard project.

Reserves exceeded

Given additional costs, including for interior finishes, equipment upgrades, the building facade, and facade lighting, costs have increased, drawing down existing contingency reserves, requiring Forest City Ratner to put up another $30 million.

Deficiencies with exterior steel being fixed

Several deficiencies in the exterior were identified in the report two months ago, and are being remedied.

Schedule: arena

The schedule is based on comparing the amount of money spent to the amount projected. It appears that the arena is ahead of schedule, but that required extending the schedule so that projections would be spread over a longer time period.


Schedule: transit connection

The transit connection schedule has also been tweaked. For example, an earlier version of this chart indicated that, by August 2011, actual spending began to hit parity with projected spending, and then dip.

More photos: courtside club, new curbing

The report also includes photos, as indicated below, of work in progress.


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