Gerges decision lingers, meeting on street closings tomorrow; CBN asks DOT to remove signs, finish Carlton Avenue Bridge
According to a press release from City Council Member Letitia James's office, the streets "are now expected to close on March 1." But that assumes that state Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges will have ruled on the condemnations by then, and he hasn't--yet.
Meanwhile, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods has asked the DOT to make several changes regarding Atlantic Yards, including the swift reopening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge. Similar questions were previously raised by the Dean Street Block Association. So we'll see if DOT has any response tomorrow.
February 1 closings delayed
Faced with a novel challenge to the planned condemnation of property for the Atlantic Yards project, Gerges on January 29 put the condemnation--and thus the closures--on hold.
At prior meetings, held last month, representatives of both FCR and DOT assumed that the closures--Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, and Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues and Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues--were on track for February 1.
Gerges's action led to significant confusion and misleading signs regarding whether the streets would actually close.
CBN request: remove VMS
1. Remove the Variable Message SignsWell, Gerges said he'd "proceed promptly" and, even if an appeal is filed, a stay is not automatic. So it could be resolved soon. Then again, everything with Atlantic Yards has taken much longer than before.
The signs were put in place to announce street closings which cannot happen until the courts rule with finality on the eminent domain question. This may not happen for months, or years. Despite the huge Variable Message Signs being dark and without message, they remain in place, depriving our neighborhoods of always scarce parking spaces. The VMS also seriously impede pedestrian passage where erected on the bluestone sidewalks of the Prospect Heights Historic District, Ft. Greene, and Park Slope. The signs can easily be stored locally.
(Photo by Tracy Collins of signage along Carlton Avenue)
CBN: no one-way
2. Do not change the 1-way status of Carlton Avenue or 6th AvenueDOT approved plans generated by Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering. Some more public justification is clearly in order.
Changing the traffic flow of these few-block changes would deprive the neighborhood of scarce parking spaces, as well as confuse drivers familiar with those 1-way streets. Nearby, the 1-way block of Underhill Ave. that was made 2-way between Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. is quite dangerous due to unaware, inattentive drivers.
CBN: keep Pacific Street open
3. Keep Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and 6th Avenue open for traffic and parking. Make Pacific Street (Vanderbilt-6th Ave.) 1-way WestWell, closing Pacific Street was studied in the environmental review, and it's part of Forest City Ratner's plans for parking, staging, and, ultimately, open space.
Again, this street closure is premature but changing direction of this block of Pacific Street would accommodate the traffic changes put in place earlier by DOT and facilitate the continuing 1-way status of Carlton Ave. (North) and 6th Avenue (South).
CBN: reopen the Carlton Avenue Bridge
4. Rebuild and restore the Carlton Avenue Bridge to the NYC street grid NOW.Actually, the plan is now to reopen the bridge in April 2012. It closed in January 2008 and in January 2009, the DOT said the work "is scheduled for completion January 2010."
The Carlton Avenue Bridge, a critical emergency-response route used by the FDNY & NYPD, was eliminated more than 2 years ago without advance notice even to the Fire Station a block away. It is necessary to public safety. Yet, Brooklyn has been deprived of this most important link between neighborhoods -- walking, biking, driving -- not for the 8 months promised, but for 26 months so far! Neither the Empire State Development Corp. nor Forest City Ratner will give a deadline for re-opening the Carlton Avenue Bridge. The Department of Transportation must exercise its responsibilities to the health and safety of the citizens of New York City, not the amorphous project timelines of a corporate developer who cannot claim to have a project plan or timeline.
The developer is clearly in charge of the process-why?
CBN: construction traffic
5. Insure that Construction Traffic, the Big Rigs, be confined to the Big Truck Routes, Atlantic and Flatbush AvenuesThis is a prospective question regarding enforcement, so we'll see what DOT says.
Large construction and service vehicles must be confined to the major streets surrounding the proposed Atlantic Yards footprint and NOT be allowed to truckquake and rattle our homes on the residential streets of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Ft. Greene, and Boerum Hill. In the Final Environmental Impact Statement the DOT gave assurances to the Community that this would be enforced; the Community expects this assurance to be enforced.