Monday, June 29, 2015

After complaints about hazardous Atlantic Avenue, Forest City admits traffic agents "not doing their job well enough"

At the Community Update (fka Quality of Life) meeting last Wednesday, executives from developer Greenland Forest City Ratner partners and state and city agencies heard several complaints about unsafe streets, notably the intersection of Atlantic and Sixth avenues, site of major construction.

Two residents north of Atlantic said they were afraid to cross the street, given the poorly marked sidewalks and the poor performance of the Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs) paid for by the developer but supervised by the police (though not the local precinct). Such TEAs, residents said, "give preference to large vehicles."

Also, added resident Pauline Blake, "they are nowhere to be found at Sixth and Atlantic ... at 7 in the morning when I drive."

Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton admitted, of the TEAs, "My team completely agrees, they're not doing their job well enough. They've been spoken to many times." She said several had been replaced, and noted that all but one closed sidewalk had been reopened.

The TEAs are separate from the pedestrian monitors, who work for the private firm Sam Schwartz Engineering, hired for specific arena events.

Possible changes

Part of the issue is simply design, since there's no pedestrian refuge in the middle of Atlantic, given that the street has been narrowed for construction, and there is no clear path for pedestrians to stop--and cross.

Keith Bray, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner for the Department of Transportation, said "we are thinking about what Atlantic between Flatbush and Vanderbilt will look like in the future... there will be some changes, from a DOT perspective."

Bray got a significant amount of hostility from a resident, before Forest City acknowledged the problem was ultimately its fault. Forest City's Cotton publicly thanked Bray for his agency's cooperation.

Resident Peter Krashes said the departure of Chris Hrones, a DOT employee assigned to Downtown Brooklyn and Atlantic Yards, means that "part of the frustration" is the lack of a staffer dedicated to the project.

For those approaching Atlantic along Sixth from the south, there's a sign indicating where cars should wait, but no such sign for pedestrians. There's also a missing sign saying "no left turn," noted resident Wayne Bailey, who also heads the 78th Precinct Community Council.  Bray said he'd look into it.

Other changes and concerns

Bray also said that bike lane markings and all intersection markings on Dean Street will be refurbished in July.

He said he'd been told that a "no trucks" sign on Carlton Avenue is obscured. "We're going to look to add an additional sign," he said.

St. Marks Avenue resident Pauline Blake said there were "severe problems" from trucks are detouring on St. Marks, aiming to avoid gridlock by going through a residential street. "Are we going to have to live through this summer with these trucks barreling up St. Marks?"

There were several other comments before Bray got to respond to a series of concerns, but his statement regarding St. Marks was "I just heard that."

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