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Final SEIS predicts more traffic delays than suggested in draft document, but promises two traffic studies to explore new solutions

Beyond the changes in monitoring Atlantic Yards construction and passive open space, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact (Final SEIS), issued by Empire State Development (ESD) and slated for approval by the authority's board at a meeting this morning, contains few substantive changes and perhaps none in response to community concerns, the Executive Summary shows.

(For example, there's nothing about the multiple developer alternative or the gentrification impacts of a 25-year buildout, though these and numerous issues are discussed/dismissed in the Response to Comments chapter.)

However, because the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) has nixed certain plans to re-stripe lanes around the project or change parking regulations, "significant adverse operational traffic impacts" are projected to remain at several more intersections than previously assumed.

To respond to that, once 1,500 apartments are built--three to five towers--the project sponsors (the joint venture between Forest City Ratner and the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group) will be required to conduct a traffic monitoring study to analyze further mitigation measures.

A second study would be required when Atlantic Yards is completed.

Modification of traffic mitigation

The Executive Summary (with underlining to indicate new information) states:
With development of Phase II under the Extended Build-Out Scenario, a total of 56 intersections are expected to have one or more movements that would experience significant adverse impacts in one or more of the five peak hours analyzed. A range of operational changes to the surrounding street network are recommended to mitigate the significant adverse traffic impacts.
These measures typically include signal phasing and timing modifications, parking regulation modifications, and changes to lane striping and pavement markings. It should be noted that subsequent to the issuance of the DSEIS, the recommended traffic mitigation measures were further reviewed by NYCDOT, and additional measures were explored, resulting in the elimination or modification of some of the measures included in the Project’s traffic mitigation plan. The mitigation measures outlined in the DSEIS included a variety of signal timing changes, lane re-striping and changes to curbside parking regulations. Subsequent to the issuance of the DSEIS, NYCDOT determined that some of the parking regulation and lane re-striping measures should not be implemented. As a result, the traffic mitigation analysis in this FSEIS indicates that fewer of the intersections identified as impacted in the DSEIS would be fully mitigated. Subsequent to the issuance of the DSEIS, the recommended traffic mitigation measures were further reviewed by NYCDOT, and additional measures were explored, resulting in the elimination or modification of some of the measures included in the Project’s traffic mitigation plan. The mitigation measures outlined in the DSEIS included a variety of signal timing changes, lane re-striping and changes to curbside parking regulations. Subsequent to the issuance of the DSEIS, NYCDOT determined that some of the parking regulation and lane re-striping measures should not be implemented. As a result, the traffic mitigation analysis in this FSEIS indicates that fewer of the intersections identified as impacted in the DSEIS would be fully mitigated. 
What does that mean?

Significant adverse operational traffic impacts would remain unmitigated at:
  • 18 of the 37 intersections (instead of four of the 41 intersections in the Draft SEIS) impacted in the weekday AM peak hour
  • three (instead of zero) of the 20 intersections impacted in the midday
  • 17 (instead of seven) of the 38 intersections impacted in the PM peak hour
  • five (instead of zero) of the 27 intersections impacted in the weekday pregame peak hour
  • 19 (instead of eight) of the 47 intersections impacted in the Saturday pregame peak hour. 
Further study required

The Executive Summary states:
As requested by the letter from NYCDOT to ESD dated May 30, 2014 (included in Appendix G, which is new to this FSEIS), promptly after the issuance of certificates of occupancy for 1,500 Project dwelling units, the project sponsors would undertake a traffic monitoring study pursuant to a scope to be approved by NYCDOT to (i) refine the signal timing and other traffic mitigation measures described in the 2006 FEIS and this SEIS as necessary to reflect then existing traffic conditions and City policies; (ii) provide further information as to the implementation date for the signal timing and other traffic mitigation measures specified in the FEIS and FSEIS; and (iii) identify potential additional measures to address unmitigated significant adverse impacts identified in the FEIS and FSEIS based on then existing traffic conditions. The project sponsors would undertake a second traffic monitoring study with the same objectives following substantial completion of Project construction. 

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