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Street changes near arena site: planned "pedestrian refuge" on Atlantic Avenue at South Portland/Sixth provokes concern about eliminating turn from Atlantic

At two meetings January 26, Chris Hrones of the New York City Department of Transportation described two planned changes in nearby roadway configurations that were not part of the Atlantic Yards plan, but are relevant to neighbors--and got some pushback about one.

Atlantic Avenue going west of Flatbush/Fourth

At Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush, there are four lanes going west on Atlantic, with one right turn-only lane. The original plan was to make another lane right-turn only.

But that would fuel congestion on Atlantic Avenue, as multiple lanes narrow to two lanes west of Flatbush (and Fourth Avenue). Now, Hornese said, the plan is to to create a 100-foot merge lane on Atlantic west of Flatbush/Fourth, thus extending an existing bus stop space (115 feet) by eliminating five or six parking spaces.

No left on South Portland on Atlantic going east

The other plan is to create a "pedestrian refuge" (mini-median) in the middle of broad Atlantic Avenue at the intersection of South Portland Avenue/Sixth Avenue, across from the northeast corner of the arena block. That would eliminate the eastbound left turn from Atlantic onto South Portland--a turn currently not available because of construction-related traffic changes.

There still would be an eastbound left turn at Fort Greene Place, he said, and one will be restored at Carlton Avenue. (This was also noted on Patch.)

The plan provoked some pushback from Jim Vogel, a representative of state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. "Fort Greene Place is demapped," he said, noting it was privatized for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls. "In terms of utility to the community, it's more important to have a left turn on South Portland. Eliminating a turn on a through street to favor a private shopping road is going to raise a lot of waves."

Hrones said it was an issue of pedestrian safety, and there was no other opportunity to create that refuge. As for Fort Greene Place, "Forest City is required to keep it open to the public," he said.

Rob Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, said he agreed with Vogel: "South Portland, the way it connects with the street network, is a much higher utility route than Fort Greene Place or Carlton Avenue."