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As Nets draw playoff crowds, pre-game traffic jams around parking garages prompt gridlock, honking in residential district

Even without James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets blew out the Milwaukee Bucks last night at the Barclays Center, gaining a decisive 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which now shifts to Milwaukee for two more games--and maybe not any more.

There were 15,776 tickets sold in what NetsDaily called a "pandemic sellout crowd"--some sections are left with spaces, accommodating unvaccinated people.

And the arena remains a very tight fit in the Prospect Heights neighborhood--even if most people take public transit, it leaves very little room for error, leading to traffic jams and, for example, the ambulance delay I witnessed.

Traffic jams and honking

Having heard complaints from neighbors about traffic jams on residential streets caused by drivers seeking parking--the few parking garages are not set up to process volumes, apparently--I walked around Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenue, and at the Dean Street/Carlton Avenue intersection between 6:30 and 7 pm, before the 7:30 pm game time.

For a period of time, the gridlock was somewhat peaceful, but, especially at Dean and Carlton it was cacophany: steady honking and frustrated, angry drivers. "Unbearable," I heard one resident say, telling a neighbor that this was a regular phenomenon.

The parking garage located on the north side of Dean Street, just east of Carlton Avenue, is associated with the 535 Carlton Avenue tower, and currently has 303 spaces.

From what I can see, it is not set up to handle even that volume.

Given that another 455 spaces will be accessible via this very entrance, below the B12/B13 sites at 615 Dean/595 Dean, and there will not be an alternate entrance--as was once planned--that portends future gridlock.

Pacific Street gridlock

As shown in the video below, starting at 6:38 pm, there was a traffic jam on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton, a two-way street which is constrained by parking on the eastbound side flush to the curb, and by combat parking pointing south from the curb bordering the Vanderbilt Yard.

That led to a traffic jam, including some honking--but far less than in the second video--for the two minutes I was watching. The traffic did start to flow, as I left, but it's hard not to think the problem will recur.

Carlton Avenue and Dean Street

The video starts at 6:54 pm, with an FDNY ambulance running its siren, trying to get past northbound traffic stacked up at Dean Street, with vehicles stacked in a lane waiting to get into the parking garage at 535 Carlton. (I'm not sure how long the ambulance had been delayed, since the delay started before my arrival.)

That means gridlock at the intersection, with eastbound Dean Street traffic and northbound Carlton Avenue traffic. Meanwhile, pedestrians and bicyclists try to get by.

There's barely one travel lane, and that's impeding access for U.S. Postal Service vehicles on the south side of the street. 

At nearly 4 minutes, a USPS worker takes it upon himself to do what someone associated with the garage--or the arena--should be doing: telling drivers that the garage is already full. (I heard various people say they'd pre-paid, and the USPS guy said the same.)