Monday, September 17, 2012

Atlantic Yards Watch documents Culture of Cheating: increased truck violations, with no enforcement, as arena construction hits crunch time

Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, Sept. 12
As the completion of the Barclays Center arena hits the final stretch, procedures aimed at protecting the community fall off even faster.

Last week, as I wrote, Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner went on Bloomberg television and insisted that his firm was following construction protocols in building the arena.

I suggested the truth was otherwise, and Atlantic Yards Watch, in Truck violations increase while enforcement stays away, offers exhaustive documentation.

The article begins:
Over the last month changes to the way truck deliveries take place at Barclays Center have increased meaningfully the number of violations of NYC law, the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and Barclays Center Truck Delivery Rules and Requirements. With apparently no enforcement taking place, the consequence is a wide range of adverse impacts on the community: trucks idling for long periods; use of unauthorized truck routes; and blocking of bus lanes, bike lanes, no standing zones and travel lanes. Travel and the quality of life on Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th Avenue is particularly affected.
The violations have steadily increased through the summer, first as the method for processing construction trucks became impractical and at times impossible, and second with the introduction of truck deliveries to facilitate arena operations. Although no new rules for truck behavior have been posted on the ESDC website or listed in the bi-weekly construction alerts, trucks now queue and stage on a public street with residences instead of the privatized section of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues.
A key change occured a week or so ago when FCRC took control of the arena from construction contractors and began operating the loading dock. The [photo above]  from Thursday, September 12th show On-site Environmental Monitor Adam Schwartz directing a delivery truck backward into the arena site while an ambulance with flashing lights waits. ESDC's environmental monitor HDR was also at the scene. The truck moved out of the way as fast as it could. Several minutes later two ambulances were seen at a residence on Carlton Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets.
Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th Avenues is currently being used both for construction truck staging and arena deliveries. The result has been chaotic for at least three weeks with the bus stop and no standing zones on the block frequently (illegally) obstructed by queueing vehicles associated with both the contractors and arena operators. Bicycle and travel lanes have also often been blocked.
A warning for the future

A driver adjusts truck load while parked on Dean St.,
outside Dean Playground. Dean St. is not a truck route.
The record bodes ill for actual operation of the arena, as residents have been told that delivery trucks will be scheduled to avoid idling in the street.

However, as Atlantic Yards Watch reports, "drivers either wait near the arena or drive to the closest location they can find to pull over, regardless of its proximity to residences. They then sit in their trucks to wait, sometimes with their engines idling."

Not only is there no capacity for trucks to queue, the drivers tell AYW they "are given little or no instruction before they come or once they arrive."

This all, of course, is a violation of both the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments signed by Forest City Ratner and the state--a document with no penalties--and the Barclays Center Trucks Rules and Requirements.

Loading dock problems

Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues
AYW points to significant problems at the loading dock, on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, with a short turning radius and no place to queue:
AYW has documented southbound trucks reaching Dean Street where the loading dock is located by making an illegal left turn off of Flatbush Avenue. In order to obey NYC truck regulations, trucks bearing south will enter Dean Street from Flatbush via 5th Avenue, meaning they will have to turn around the triangle in that location. Some truck drivers have told AYW that they have driven down Dean Street from 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt (illegal for trucks) because they have difficulty making the turn at 6th Avenue. Likewise, at least at this time some trucks have difficulty making the turn out of the loading dock without passing over the sidewalk. To the right is a large truck on September 15th passing over a sidewalk a few feet from residences. The fresh damage to the tree was not caused by this truck, but likely another truck doing the same manuever. Some, but not all of these problems may be because construction of the arena is still ongoing while arena preparations are underway.
It's also not clear whether the three parking spaces along Dean Street directly across the loading dock, taken for construction purposes (to maintain the turning radius for truck deliveries), will be permanent.

On the way to the loading dock

A video on AYW shows numerous violations: a truck parked in a lane against traffic on Sixth Avenue, which then drives against traffic onto Dean Street between Sixth and Flatbush to back into the arena (7:15). No flagger is visible. At 1:15, another truck drives down residential Dean Street where trucks are banned.



Dean Street squeeze

For much, much more, go to Atlantic Yards Watch. One more photo, from Aug. 24, with the description from AYW:
A truck in the bike lane is unloaded while other trucks queue on the south side of Dean Street. In the meantime another truck squeezes through the travel lane that remains. At this stage in the project many drivers are one-time visitors to the arena, and some are unfamiliar with driving in an urban setting. All drivers interviewed in the last three weeks state they are not given much information beyond the 620 Atlantic Avenue address.
Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues


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