Thursday, June 16, 2016

Neighbors express concern about project-related traffic congestion, dangerous intersection, "crisis" Sixth Avenue

Beyond the not-quite-comforting explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building, the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues. oncluding a new detente with project neighbors and seeming delays in the project buildout.

A brief appearance by representatives of the city Department of Transportation was met with some quizzical responses.

The agency's Leroy Branch said they didn't have a presentation, but were aiming to respond to "issues on Sixth Avenue" near Flatbush Avenue.

He got a query from Prospect Heights resident Daphne Eviatar; "What are the plans for dealing with the tremendous amount of congestion around Barclays Center and the whole project, the constant blocking of intersections, the dangers created, constant sirens for emergency vehicles?"
The response from Branch's colleague Abigail Ikner was somewhat bureaucratic: when there's an expected impact on traffic from construction, the developer submits an MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) plan for agency review. 

She noted that, at the previous Community Update meeting in April, the developer's consultant Stantec presented such a plan.

Eviatar asked about "the larger plan for dealing with the congestion." (Unmentioned: that would require far more enforcement of illegal parking and idling by the New York Police Department and, I'd bet, a new mayoral commitment.)

Ikner said that there should be a meeting in mid-July regarding Times Plaza--at the intersection of Flatbush, Atlantic, and Fourth avenues--where a new plaza will be implemented along with neighborhood-requested safety fixes.

I'm not sure whether or how that meeting can address the general issue of project-related traffic.

What about that new MPT?

Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association asked about the status of the plan presented in April by Stantec, which details current and expected changes to street and sidewalk accessibility.

Branch said it had been approved. However, it had not been posted by Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. It should be posted shortly.

A dangerous intersection

Krashes cited at least six accidents--crashes, I'd say--at the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street, which residents believe have been caused by drivers distracted by the change in the traffic flow on Vanderbilt southbound, caused by the "green monster" fence extending into the street, outside the 535 Carlton Avenue construction site. 

"We we were told that the MPT was going to be moved back at the end of the spring," Krashes said. "What's the status of that?"

Branch said " are still in the process of working through that, it is going to be moved back." He couldn't offer an exact date.

What about Sixth Avenue?

Sixth Avenue below Flatbush Avenue, said resident Pauline Blake, "is at a crisis," to Sterling Place. (One cyclist has already been killed.) "It is critical that we correct this situation before all our young people get out of school."

"I have been inundated with a lot of emails," said Branch, saying DOT was conducting a study of the timing of traffic lights, and "we also have asked for a congestion study... It has been prioritized, it is going to happen more quickly than normal."

What about Pacific Street?

Wayne Bailey, who lives in the Newswalk building on Pacific Street, said the congestion outside "is relentless," compounded by honking.

The street was long a one-way street but in recent years turned into to a two-way street. "When can we get an answer as to why it can't go back?" he asked.

"I'll check on that tomorrow," Branch said.

(Update: Bailey told me that Branch later told him to bring the issue to the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee. However, Bailey said, CB 8 has made that request previously, with no answer.)

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