Thursday, August 16, 2012

Atlantic Yards transportation plan Q&A: no remedies if goals aren't met; some on-site parking not pre-reserved; developer need not pay for transit service; arena website being updated; no signage to highlight residential area

As I wrote yesterday, the mildly tweaked Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center final Transportation Demand Management Plan is far less interesting than the long Response to Public Comments document, which, despite the knotty problem of promoting prepaid parking that is not yet "seamless," not unexpectedly deflects nearly all the community concerns raised.

Here are some highlights, described further below:
  • there are no remedies if performance goals to reduce driving aren't met
  • sidewalks may be smaller than assumed, but they're still OK (according to an unreleased memo)
  • the Carlton Avenue Bridge may open with temporary street lighting/railing
  • there's no option to have farmer's market or other programming in the surface parking lot
  • only VIP and HOV slots at that 541-space on-site surface parking lot will be pre-reserved; some more expensive slots will be available for drive-up
  • no measures directly address on‐street parking
  • Forest City Ratner need not deploy all the money saved by not providing free MetroCards into promoting use of transit
  • the developer will not pay for increased transit service
  • "Barclays Center is in the process of updating and refining its website" regarding transportation issues
  • meters on area streets may be extended past 7 pm to deter arena-goers from parking all night
  • no special signage is planned to remind arena-goers they're in a residential area
  • "No Honking" signs are not considered effective and won't be installed
  • a traffic study examined 41 intersections, but a post-opening study will look at 56, including those facing traffic from BQE north of arena
  • "measures as necessary [will] address traffic and pedestrian conditions" while towers are built next to the arena.
  • those going to the 2/3 train from the new subway entrance will find a straight shot, while those going to the Q or 4/5 will have to climb additional stairs
  • event-related buses may be staged at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Brooklyn‐bound gap trains will start at Whitehall Station or from a spur north of DeKalb Avenue
  • trucks staged from the Navy Yard won't be able to use Flushing Avenue, as once stated, but "will avoid traveling on secondary, neighborhood streets whenever possible"
What happened to Wrigley?

The document responded nearly all of the questions I publicly posed in July, except this one:
Those working on the TDM plan looked at the experience of several sports venues. However, they did not cite the experience of Wrigley Field in Chicago, around which there is a residential permit parking plan. Does Wrigley not have any lessons for Brooklyn?
Wrigley Field, of course, inspired the Neighborhood Protection Plan proposed by community groups, which would require, for example, additional personnel and attention to sanitation, as well as performance goals and residential permit parking. The latter has been nixed by the city Department of Transportation, though a post-opening study will evaluate streets in neighborhoods around the arena.

Selected questions

Below I've excerpted/summarized a good chunk of the questions, and posted verbatim but truncated answers.

Why no promotion of bike awareness?
The goal of the TDM Plan is to reduce the number of automobiles traveling to the arena for arena events. It does not include measures related to driver awareness of bicycles. However, DOT has advised ESD that it has several ongoing safety education campaigns... Display locations for these campaigns include areas in the vicinity of Barclays Center.
Are effective effective widths of sidewalks incorrect, thus creating havoc from people walking due to changes to the arena parking plan and arena entrances?
The analyses of sidewalk effective widths and pedestrian levels of service in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) were consistent with the methodology presented in the 2001 CEQR Technical Manual and the Highway Capacity Manual 2000, which remains the DOT‐approved methodology for assessing pedestrian conditions in New York City... The FEIS analyses determined that all analyzed sidewalks would operate at acceptable levels of service in periods of peak demand in both of these build conditions... Subsequent assessments of sidewalk conditions by HDR in September 2011 and by Philip Habib & Associates in August 2012 identified a number of locations where sidewalk widths will likely be narrower upon arena opening than was assumed for the Phase I interim condition in the FEIS. However, all of these locations are still projected to operate at acceptable levels of service...
Note that the August 2012 document hasn't been released.

Could people walk to the arena from the surface parking lot via Atlantic Avenue, instead of Pacific and Dean streets?
It is expected that pedestrians will use the shortest, most direct path between their point of origin and the arena; therefore pedestrians coming from the Block 1129 parking lot would most likely take Pacific Street or Dean Street... and would not be likely to walk north over the Carlton Avenue Bridge in order to walk west along Atlantic Avenue. In addition, the sidewalks and crosswalks along Pacific Street and Dean Street between the arena block and Block 1129 are expected to operate at acceptable levels of service.... Nonetheless, FCRC advises ESD that the sidewalk along the south side of Atlantic Avenue between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue will be restored prior to arena opening.
How many pedestrian monitors will there be?
..the appropriate use and deployment of pedestrian managers, arena operations personnel, traffic enforcement agents (“TEAs”), security personnel, etc., will be determined, in consultation with DOT and the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”).. Deployment for such [large] events could consist of approximately 18 pedestrian managers and 11 TEAs, focusing on pedestrian and vehicle traffic at key intersections/areas including 4th Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Dean Street, 6th Avenue, Carlton Avenue, Pacific Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. The operation of area intersections and locations of traffic control personnel will be evaluated after the arena opens...
What about programming events at the parking lot, like farmer's markets, street fairs, performances, cycle track, etc.
Until Phase II buildings are constructed on Block 1129, portions of Block 1129 will continue to be used for construction storage and staging, and the Block 1129 parking lot will be used for construction worker parking when not in use for event parking. The FEIS found that the use of Block 1129 for these purposes would help to reduce certain environmental impacts of construction... Therefore, the Block 1129 portion of the project site is not expected to be available...
Will the Carlton Avenue Bridge reopen before/when the arena does? Is there a plan to open the bridge with temporary street lighting and railing?
[It] is scheduled to be open and in operation in time for the first arena event.  FCRC intends to open the bridge with permanent street lighting and railing, but it is possible that the bridge could open with temporary lighting and railing, a contingency that FCRC indicates it has discussed and coordinated with DOT...
Should parking be by reservation only?
This reservation system will include the Block 1129 parking lot, several off‐site facilities in the area, and the remote parking facilities. Click and Park has reached out to over thirty garages regarding potential participation in some element of the online reservation system. When the program is launched, approximately 950 spaces are expected to be available immediately. By arena opening, the program is expected to expand to include approximately 1,300 spaces. Garages and additional spaces could be added after arena opening as well. With the purchase of each reserved space the patron will receive driving directions that avoid residential neighborhood streets and walking directions to the arena from the parking facility. The provision of driving directions is expected to help decrease congestion in the immediate vicinity of the arena, as well as reduce driver confusion and total distance driven. For the Block 1129 parking lot, all prepaid reservations must be HOV. Drivers that are not prepaid will be required to pay an additional fee, currently expected to be $10, regardless of HOV status. In addition, a penalty charge will be imposed on drivers with HOV reservations who cannot present proof of purchase of three or more tickets for that event. (VIP ticket holders are not subject to either of these penalties.) The parking facility operator will therefore have a financial incentive to enforce the HOV program. 
Wasn't all parking at the on‐site Block 1129 lot to be pre‐paid and pre‐reserved? It seems like parking operators have left open the option to fill unsold slots...
For the Block 1129 parking lot, all prepaid reservations must be HOV.... On the Barclays Center website, and on available smartphone apps, the Click and Park system will inform customers when a lot is sold out. The Click and Park system will allow the operator of the Block 1129 lot to know how many spaces are available in real time. In addition, the lot operator will know the number of VIP spaces reserved for each event since these spaces require a special VIP parking pass for each event. In addition, signs at the Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenue intersections with Pacific Street will indicate whether the Block 1129 lot has capacity.
Will free, on‐street parking expected to be an incentive for arena patrons to drive? How will they be discouraged to seek free, on‐street parking beyond education/encouragement to take public transit and to pre‐pay for parking at area lots?
The TDM Plan does not contain measures that directly address on‐street parking. The key objective of the TDM Plan is to discourage driving so there will be fewer cars in general coming into the area to park, and therefore fewer cars seeking to occupy on‐street parking spaces. The emphasis in Barclays Center marketing materials on the limited parking available and their highlighting of off‐street parking options is expected to reduce the number of arena patrons seeking on‐street parking. Post‐opening monitoring will include assessments of the parking locations of Nets game attendees.
The first round of Q&A suggested that the money Forest City Ratner saves by not paying for a free MetroCard linked with game/event tickets would be redeployed into advertising to encourage people not to drive. Can a minimum dollar amount of advertising spending be specified?
FCRC/Barclays Event Center (“BEC”) has advised ESD that it developed an extensive transit marketing plan that is part of Barclays Center's overall marketing plan on a permanent and ongoing basis... ESD does not view a minimum dollar amount as an appropriate measure for determining the adequacy of the program.
The Barclays Center web site has 3 pull downs from the ‘Getting Here’ menu: Public Transportation, Driving Directions, and Parking.  The public transportation option is the first on the list, but it's not highlighted
Barclays Center is currently refining the "Getting Here" tab on the website to highlight transit options, including subway, bus, LIRR and bicycle.
The parking menu on the Barclays website is blank (no parking lots or garages are listed yet) but the Driving Directions page says nothing about preferring public transportation at all.
Barclays Center is in the process of updating and refining its website. Public transportation will be highlighted on the website, including on the Driving Directions page.
Event listings from the Barclays Center web site go to Ticketmaster, which has no indication of preferring public transit over parking and driving.
Due to Ticketmaster restrictions, all venues listed on Ticketmaster, including Barclays Center, list driving directions first. Ticketmaster has agreed to include the following text on its Barclays Center website under "Venue Details": "Please consider taking public transit – it's fast, easy and convenient. Please note that public parking is limited."
Indeed, see graphic at right.

What is the permanent location of the Uplink Satellite Parking Lot?
FCRC and Barclays Center will propose the permanent location for broadcast functions in the future.
Given that the current location, at the northeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, is supposed to house the last tower built, it could be a while.

Will surveys be made of on‐street parking behavior with and without an arena event?
The TDM Plan includes components related to both on‐site and off‐site parking, including an online parking reservation system... the TDM Plan’s post‐opening monitoring will not include assessment of the utilization of on‐street parking. However, DOT plans to conduct an additional study of parking conditions around the arena after the arena opens to assess how arena events affect on‐street parking occupancy and use.
Arena patrons paying for metered parking on the commercial streets also take spots away from local residents and businesses. Since most metered parking expires at 7 pm, around the time most evening events begin, if an arena patron feeds the meter until 7 pm, the patron could buy a spot for the entire night for just a few dollars.
DOT advises ESD that it is currently working with local residential and business representatives to explore the possibility of extending past 7 PM the shut‐off time of metered parking in the area. 
The study does not take into account any increase over the last year in the number of local residents who have signed contracts for off‐street parking in local lots in anticipation of the arena opening. Therefore, evaluation of the TDM program should include an updated inventory of capacity and utilization of off‐street parking facilities.
Any developments in the area since SSE conducted its October 2011 parking inventory would not significantly affect overall off‐street parking availability. Additional counts are not warranted at this time. As part of the post‐opening evaluation of the TDM program and arena operations, usage and capacity data from off‐site parking facilities will be reviewed. 
I hope there will be adequate security for the parking lot, and tailgating will not be permitted.
FCRC has informed ESD that tailgating will not be permitted at the parking lot on Block 1129. Security will be provided by arena security personnel, supplemented by the parking lot operator, and will be fully coordinated with the NYPD. Arena security personnel will be equipped with their own radio communication system... In addition to the CCTV cameras that will be mounted on the exterior of the arena, BEC is exploring options to place cameras at other areas to afford enhanced security measures for the areas leading to the parking facility.
Will you post signs designating residential areas so that event‐goers respect the privacy of neighbors forced to live near the arena?
A portion of Boerum Hill has been established by DOT as a Neighborhood Slow Zone and will include signage at gateways designating it as such. There will be a lower speed limit within the zone, and DOT will implement other measures to reduce speeds. No other special signage in residential areas is planned.
Will no honking signs be installed and enforced?
As part of an effort to reduce excessive and ineffective signage on our streets, DOT no longer will be installing No Honking Signs. DOT has found that signage does not act as an effective deterrent to excessive honking, which can be enforced in any part of the city.
The Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is supposed to draw on the pioneering CBA enacted regarding the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That CBA not only includes the developer's political support for residential permit parking, but funding to help pay for it. Why not in this case?
The Atlantic Yards CBA does not include any provisions regarding residential parking permits. Furthermore, ESD is not a party to the CBA and does not have a role in negotiating what should be addressed in the CBA or in enforcing or overseeing the CBA.
Why didn't the traffic study, which examined 41 intersections, address trips from the BQE at the north along Franklin, Washington, Clinton, DeKalb and Vanderbilt avenues?
The assignment of arena‐generated vehicle trips in the FEIS was based on data from the Downtown Brooklyn Development project and the expected geographical distribution of demand to the arena from New York City’s five boroughs and surrounding suburbs such as Long Island and New Jersey.... Post‐opening monitoring will be conducted as required by DOT and ESD and is expected to include a detailed post‐opening traffic study during event times of 56 intersections in the vicinity of the arena.  
Have the reductions in travel lanes on 6th Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue been taken into account in the analysis of the parking reduction memo?
No capacity analyses were performed as part of this study;.. it was determined that the projected increase in vehicle volumes at certain intersections could have an effect on operations at a number of identified intersections. These intersections are identified in the memorandum... [and] will be monitored during arena events following arena opening.
Saturday afternoon events may impacted worse than weekday and evening events, but the follow up study in 2013 will apparently not include analysis of that time period.  How is that justified?
The goal of the post‐opening traffic study is to analyze the effects of actual arena events..., large Saturday afternoon events (specifically Nets games) at the arena are expected to be relatively rare.
Indeed, there are zero scheduled. But will there be other events?

The TDM includes few performance goals and no remedies if goals are not met. The only required evaluation of the TDM is to occur mid‐way through the first season and there are no remedies if it is determined at that time that the TDM does not meet performance goals. In contrast, the Chicago Cubs provide an annual report on their TDM activities and the City requires the Cubs to pay a penalty if the satellite parking facility is underutilized..
The primary goal of the TDM Plan is to reduce the percentage of arena attendees who drive to the arena to 28.3 percent for weekday Nets games and to 32 percent for Saturday afternoon Nets games... The effectiveness of the TDM Plan in achieving these goals will be monitored. FCRC and Barclays Center will report the results of monitoring to DOT and ESD, who will review and require any necessary adjustments. The scope for this monitoring and reporting will be determined in the initial months after the arena opens.
The absence of a construction plan including sidewalk and travel lane closures undermines the usefulness of the analysis.
FCRC will obtain all required permits and approvals (including any temporary lane or sidewalk closure) from the agencies of jurisdiction prior to any Atlantic Yards‐related construction activity in or around the site. Such agencies will require measures as necessary to address traffic and pedestrian conditions.
What if there aren't solutions?

It is very important that Arena traffic not be permitted to access Carlton Avenue from the Arena parking lot or Atlantic Avenue. Additional traffic on Carlton Avenue poses risks to elderly residents, schoolchildren and to cyclists, as well as to the many families and young children...
The FEIS disclosed the potential for additional traffic on Carlton Avenue. While there is no plan to physically restrict access to Carlton Avenue, DOT supports arena event traffic management that encourages traffic to remain on major arterials. Such traffic management measures may include TEAs, traffic signal progression on major corridors and variable message signs encouraging use of major corridors.
The most troubling component of the TDM is the architecture and layout of the new street‐level entrance to the Atlantic Ave‐Barclays Center station. The proposal and the MTA mention increased Q and 4 services in the evenings or after shows, but neither the Q (BMT) nor the 4 trains are directly accessible from the platforms that are nearest to the entrance. It would be much simpler to have all trains stop on the 2/3 uptown tracks so that the descent/ascent could be avoided, but that's not feasible with the current track and platform layout. Reaching the 4/5 platform is unintuitive...
The B/Q and 4/5 platforms are as intuitive to reach as the Manhattan‐bound 2/3 platform.  Customers entering the subway station at the new street level entrance will face three portals, which are portrayed as “equals.”  Each portal is planned to have electronic signs.  The only difference is that there are stairs en route to the B/Q and 4/5 but not to the 2/3.   The stations have been designed to match typical demand levels with the capacities of turnstiles, platforms and trains. There will be sufficient capacity on stairwells to meet the demand for access to the 4/5 platform in order to use the additional 4 subway service.
Will Forest City Ratner or others involved in the Barclays Center pay for any of the additional transit service? If a large number of expected transit users already have unlimited ride MetroCards, as officials commenting on the TDM have already said, what reason is there to think this would not be a net cost to the transit agencies, rather than an opportunity for increased revenue?
Neither FCRC nor others involved in Barclays Center will pay for the additional transit service. NYCT expects a normal mix of pay‐per‐ride users and pass users.  The additional transit service is crucial both to provide service to Barclays Center patrons and to ensure capacity for non‐Barclays Center riders.
With fewer lay‐by lane spaces than anticipated and fewer parking locations, the likelihood of buses parking on block 1129 or Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues has increased.  There is no description of a permanent location for bus parking in any project documents.  
NYPD will not permit charter buses to stage on neighborhood streets in violation of parking and other regulations. FCRC is currently seeking an off‐site location for staging other event‐related buses at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Q trains would have to be staged south of Prospect Park station on the express tracks; there is no other place to store them. At that, this would work only for Manhattan‐bound gap trains. There are no crossovers north of Atlantic Avenue for trains to reverse direction, meaning Coney Island‐ bound gap trains coming from south of Prospect Park would have to run wrong‐way on the southbound track to Atlantic Avenue, disrupting regular service.
NYCT indicates that Brooklyn‐bound gap trains will originate at either Whitehall Station or from a spur north of the DeKalb Avenue Station.
At a recent public meeting, FCRC representatives stated that trucks making deliveries to the arena would be staged off‐site at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and dispatched from the staging area to the arena. Between Atlantic Avenue and the Navy Yard there are no north‐south designated truck routes between Flatbush Avenue and Bedford Avenue. There was a suggestion that trucks could go along Flushing Avenue to Flatbush Avenue Extension to the arena; this is impossible as Flushing Avenue, once it becomes Nassau Street, exits to the Manhattan Bridge only and not to southbound Flatbush Avenue Extension..., truck drivers certainly would use the most direct route, along Vanderbilt and Washington Avenues, which are, for the most part, residential streets.
If FCRC secures the location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the truck routes will be reviewed in coordination with DOT. Generally all trucks will be required to use the most efficient and direct route to the site using established truck routes and other arterial roadways, and will avoid traveling on secondary, neighborhood streets whenever possible.
That seems to leave some wiggle room.
ESD_TDM_ResponsetoComments

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