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Thanks to (disruptive) overtime, Carlton Avenue Bridge is now on schedule to reopen before arena

Will the Carlton Avenue Bridge, a key connection between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene and one route to the adjacent arena surface parking lot, open before the Barclays Center does on September 28?

Yes, say developer Forest City Ratner and the state official overseeing the project--and this time, unlike in previous months, that pledge is backed up by reports from the state's construction monitor.

To get the bridge open, and avoid traffic chaos, the builders were considering opening the bridge with a temporary pier, not a permanent one. But even that won't be needed, thanks to overtime work, part of an accelerated schedule that caused considerable collateral damage to neighbors

Last report

At an Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting July 12, Forest City construction chief Bob Sanna said that the arena and the bridge were both on schedule.

Is there a contingency plan for the bridge? “We really do expect to have the bridge in place,” said Sanna.

Photo 8/8/12
Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, Empire State Development, intervened. “They are ahead of schedule and things are going extremely well,” she said, “so there's no concern on our end about them not opening the bridge in time.”

Closer look

Well, in this case "ahead of schedule" means "ahead of the previous worst-case schedule," not ahead of some previously announced schedules. After all, when the bridge closed in January 2008, it was supposed to reopen two years later. And there's been much obfuscation about the timetable.

For months, the bridge was behind schedule. ESDC consultant STV, which provides weekly reports to the agency, said 3/9/12 that the bridge was "officially one month behind schedule," and would open in "late September," though time could be saved with a temporary pier and opening the bridge before asphalt was paved.

The bridge reconstruction is part of an "Arena Opening Condition" required by the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement. However, failure to meet that condition would result in only the freezing of Forest City Ratner's rights to move forward on any new residential development.

The firm Merritt & Harris, which serves as a construction monitor for arena bondholders, reported in June that the bridge was supposed to be finished by October 3, five days after the arena, but the developer was optimistic it could speed things up, via an overtime program.

That seems to have worked.

New schedules

In reports to ESD, STV has indicated changing completion times for the bridge.

For example, a schedule issued to STV in April--also apparently the one on which Merritt & Harris relied--indicated that the bridge would be complete in "late September/early October," assuming time savings from a temporary pier.

Schedule #12, dated 5/31/12, continued the same assumptions.
Curiously enough, there was no indication of a Schedule #13. (Was that some kind of superstition?)

Catching up

However, Schedule #14, dated 7/10/12, just before the District Service Cabinet meeting, indicated that things had been improved: the project is expected to be complete by September 20.

That temporary pier

Pier 3, Hankin reported, is roughly the same size as the other two piers, Piers 1 and 2. The temporary pier was a steel frame pier, compared to the permanent pier, which is concrete reinforced with steel reinforcing bars.

The permanent pier, Hankin said, "was constructed in July through early August and went a lot faster than the earlier piers. As such, the temporary pier, which was to stay in place through September, has already been disassembled as it is no longer needed. It is currently being stored on site in the now defunct south yard and, upon further disassembly, will be removed from the site."