The floodlights in the Vanderbilt Railyard are being used to extend construction work hours to as late as 11:00 PM many days of the week. In the spring of 2010, LIRR told community members the lights would be used infrequently to enable work that could not be executed in the day while the railyard was operating. At that time there was no mention the lights would be used for construction.
The policy for use of the lights has apparently changed. According to ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin, LIRR and the FCRC contractors working on the Carlton Avenue Bridge are negotiating an agreement for the use of the lights that includes extending construction work hours. The rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is not a LIRR project, although its completion is dependent on various elements of railyard construction being finished. The lights are planned to be used until reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is complete, which must be prior to the time the arena opens in September 2012. It is unclear to what extent the lights will be used when construction in Vanderbilt Railyard continues with the replacement of the permanent railyard. It is anticipated to be complete in 2016.
Although the work currently taking place only involves a small number of workers in limited locations, all of the lights in the yard are turned on. On Tuesday, December 6 the lights were left on until 3:30 AM without notice to the community. On December 13 only some of the lamps on each lightpole were turned on at night, lessening the brightness outside the perimeter of the project's footprint. By December 14, all lamps were on once again.
Approximately a week after an inquiry was left on the Community Liaison's voice mail, Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte provided a response:
The flood lights are used to facilitate work in the yard that is performed on either extended hours or double shifts, and they are turned on from 6:00am to dawn and from dusk to 11:00pm. Currently, double shifts in the Yard are taking place Monday, Saturday, and Sundays and holidays as needed. There has been one exception where overnight work took place and the flood lights were on throughout the night, and this took place last Tuesday, December 6th. There have not been any other instances of overnight work in the yard and use of the flood lights all night. All of this information regarding the use of the flood lights has been outlined in the past two Construction Updates which are both posted on ESD's website.
We will be using the flood lights until work relating to the Carlton Avenue Bridge is complete. The hours of work will continue to be included in ESD's Construction Updates. The lights are required to provide visibility for the workers, and to ensure safe working conditions. To minimize the impact to those adjacent to the yard, the lights are directed downward and into the Yard, and away from residential buildings.
Residents note that while the lights are directed downward, spillage on the sides of the lights is intense and flows directly into nearby residences. No adjustments to the floodlights redirecting their beams away from residential building have been made to compensate for their increased use.
The photos below and above illustrate the brightness of the illumination from the floodlights.
An interior on Pacific Street facing the railyard at 7 pm on December 14, 2011.
A person on Pacific Street between 6th and Vanderbilt reading at night using the LIRR floodlights at 7:30 on December 9, 2011.