Skip to main content

Wiggle room: In FEIS graphics, ESDC suggested Flatbush Ave. lane closures would be temporary, but text was ambiguous (& referred only to utility work)

So, did the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) study the impact on Flabush Avenue traffic of the need to build a lay-by lane for the arena and thus upgrade Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway vent structures?

On July 27, when I reported on the announcement of a "temporary" 17-month lane closure on Flatbush between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue, I suggested no.

That morning, I asked the ESDC if it had been studied in the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) or the June 2009 Technical Memorandum and whether ESDC had documentation on the rationale for the change and estimates of its potential impact.

Yesterday morning, I got an answer, and it deserves a close look.

Essentially, the text of the ESDC documents left enough wiggle room for the closure currently planned, but the attached graphics indicated that Flatbush Avenue lane closures would be temporary.

The asterisk, however, is the FEIS mentioned only the impact of utility work, not the upgrade of vent structures.

Intermittent closure

The ESDC stated:
The FEIS disclosed that the construction work for the Atlantic Yards Project would result in significant adverse traffic impacts due principally to bridge and lane closures during the construction period. See, e.g., FEIS at 17-38. More specifically, the FEIS disclosed that the construction work would likely result in the closure of a travel lane on Flatbush Avenue. See, e.g., FEIS at 17-44 & FEIS Figure 17a-2.
FEIS Figure 17a-2 is embedded below in full and excerpted at right. Yes, it indicated closure of a travel lane on Flatbush, but an intermittent closure.

Looking at the text

The text of Chapter 17, Construction Impacts, however, is more ambiguous. On p. 38 it indicates that lane disruptions would be a contributor to adverse traffic impacts:
The detailed construction traffic analysis shows that significant adverse traffic impacts would occur at numerous locations throughout the construction period. However, these impacts would be attributable primarily to factors other than the added traffic from construction trucks and worker vehicles. The permanent closure of several streets within the project site, the lane disruptions during utility installation and rail yard improvements, and the reconstruction of two bridges over the rail yard were determined to be the main reasons for changes in area travel patterns and traffic diversions. These traffic diversions, when combined with construction- generated traffic, would concentrate traffic at specific intersections near the project site and result in the projected significant adverse traffic impacts.
...As described below, all significant adverse traffic impacts identified at the outlying intersections would be mitigated by the early implementation of proposed mitigation measures. However, certain significant adverse traffic impacts identified at 10 intersections adjacent to the project site would remain unmitigated.
On p. 44, it refers to utility work, which I don't think is the same as vent structures:
During the first half of this construction phase, substantial utility work would continue, requiring the closure of curb lanes along Atlantic Avenue between Flatbush and Cumberland Avenues, and Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street, as reflected in the preliminary MPT plan shown in Figure 17a-8... Along the east side of Flatbush Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street, utility installation would require the temporary taking of the curb lane. To maintain peak traffic flow along Flatbush Avenue, this closure may need to be limited to only off-peak or nighttime hours. The appropriate MPT for this roadway segment would be determined in consultation with DOT.
(Emphases added)

At left is an excerpt from Figure 17a-8, which indicates a right-late closure in off-peak hours.

However, as noted in the text, a limited closure was merely contemplated as a possibility, not as a certainty.

Leaving wiggle room

The ESDC message referenced the contemplated MPT (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic):
The FEIS indicated that the "appropriate MPT for this roadway segment would be determined in consultation with DOT." Consistent with the FEIS, NYCDOT reviewed and approved the MPT for Flatbush Avenue. To minimize the potential for traffic impacts, instead of reducing the northbound movement of Flatbush Avenue to two lanes during the morning rush hour, the MPT provides for three travel lanes for the north bound side of Flatbush Avenue during the morning rush hour and three travel lanes for the south bound side of Flatbush Avenue during the evening rush hour. ESDC's environmental consultant (HDR) reviewed the NYCDOT-approved MPT and determined it to be reasonable from a traffic standpoint, in light of the FEIS disclosures, the traffic volume data for the affected roadways, and the analysis presented in the Technical Memorandum, which analyzed the hypothetical impacts of reducing a segment of Flatbush Avenue to two lanes during the pre-game and post-game periods, in which traffic volumes are comparable to or exceed the traffic volumes anticipated during the construction period in which the MPT will be in effect. The traffic engineers for the project will monitor the roadway network after implementation of the MPT to determine whether any adjustments to the MPT are warranted.
(Emphases added)

Given that the city and state reviewed an MPT, that suggests it was prepared by a consultant for developer Forest City Ratner.

The term "reasonable" is the magic word that indicates to judges, if faced with reviewing the decision by an agency like the ESDC, that they should not substitute their judgment.

Also, note that the Technical Memorandum's analysis of "the hypothetical impacts of reducing a segment of Flatbush Avenue to two lanes during the pre-game and post-game periods" refers to a segment below Fifth Avenue, so not the same as the segment that will soon have a closure:
A screening analysis was performed to identify the potential for the absence of a lay-by lane south of 5th Avenue to result in new significant adverse traffic impacts at the Flatbush Avenue/5th Avenue intersection. The analysis focuses on the weekday and Saturday pre-game and post-game peak hours when the highest amount of curbside pick-up and drop-off activity adjacent to the arena is expected to occur. As a worst-case condition for this screening analysis, the northbound Flatbush Avenue approach was assumed to operate with only two moving lanes approaching 5th Avenue, a condition that would occur if vehicles were to illegally stop in the curbside lane.... With only two travel lanes, northbound Flatbush Avenue at the Flatbush Avenue/5th Avenue intersection would continue to operate at an acceptable LOS B or C in all pre-game and post-game peak hours when demand for curbside space adjacent to the arena is expected to be greatest.
Construction Impacts chapter and Technical Memorandum

17 Construction Impacts FEIS

Technical Memorandum June 2009

FEIS graphics

Fig17a-1 Construction

Fig17a-2

Fig17a-3 Construction FEIS

Fig17a-4 Construction FEIS

Fig17a-5 Construction FEIS

Fig17a-6 Construction FEIS

Fig17a-7 Construction FEIS

Fig17a-8 Construction FEIS

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …