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From street trees to illegal parking; photos show Atlantic Yards' adverse effect on 6th Avenue


















Illegal parking on sidewalks, primarily by 78th Precinct employees, has replaced street trees on 6th Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets.  The photos above are one example of how Atlantic Yards construction has reversed the development progress of some areas of the community adjacent to the project site.  The photo on the left was taken in December 2007.  The photo on the right was taken November of 2011.

Entire railyard is illuminated for construction mornings and nights, including outside of scheduled construction hours

For the last several weeks railyard flood lights installed in 2010 have been used to extend construction hours.  They have also been used intermittently during the very early morning hours either for construction or LIRR maintenance.  

The lights are bright enough to cast shadows to neighborhoods outside the project site.  The residents most impacted live at the same height as the light fixtures. One incident report describes the condition in some residences in 700 Pacific Street as blinding at night.

The construction alerts outline the use of the lights to extend construction work hours starting at 6:00 am and from dusk to 7:30 pm weekdays.  But incident reports state the lights sometimes come on at earlier times weekdays like 4:30 am and  5:00 am  and weekends at 6:30 am.  The construction alerts do not describe the lights being used during the weekend at all.  

It is unclear at this writing whether the work outside the construction hours detailed in the construction alerts is associated with LIRR operation or with construction. Although the full yard is illuminated, often the work taking place is by a small number of workers in one location.  According to nearby residents, the lights have been turned on more frequently in the early mornings recently than in the past.  This coincides with the announcement in the construction alerts the lights would be used for construction.

Equipment spews dust into air over railyard and Atlantic Avenue

Video submitted with an incident report shows dust being blown into the air this morning in the railyard near the work reconstructing the Carlton Avenue Bridge.   The video above is one of four submitted.

The incident report accompanying the video reports "this has been going on for the last few days."  

The report notes that the dust was so significant the worker using a water hose to suppress dust moved away, stopping his task.

Gucci horse competition coming to Barclays, but where will the horses go?

As yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article The Horses Will Jump in Brooklyn announced, beginning in 2013 the Barclays Center will be the third site for the Gucci Masters, an elite show-jumping event that attracts the world’s top riders.

The announcement is a reminder that while most of the press around the Barclays Center opening is focused around the Nets, professional basketball games will be only 40 of the 220 or so events anticipated for the arena. The range of programming - from the horse show to the three performances a day for Disney on Ice - have traffic and operational impacts that were never outlined in the FEIS.  In this case, where will the horses go?

According to the article:

For the New York Masters, about 70 to 80 horses will be stabled inside the building, with more than 200 horses in tents just outside, and 1,500 tons of special silica sand will be shipped in from Europe.

The Paris Gucci Masters is held at the Salon de Cheval, a dedicated horse show facility that includes warm-up rings and trailer parking in addition to stables and show rings. Instead, the Barclays event will resemble the International Horse Show at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., which closed three city blocks around the arena this October.

More violations of truck rules and regulations occur, causing air quality impacts

An incident report from November 28th contains two videos showing trucks departing the construction site quickly and stirring up dust into the air.  The location of the incidents shown in the video is Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue, where a dispatch is supposed to stop all trucks and only let them advance when the designated entrance is ready to receive them.

Air quality in the community near the site is affected when trucks speed and/or dirt is spread from the work site by the wheels of construction trucks.  While coordination of trucks associated with project construction has improved since incident reports and stories posted on AYW began drawing attention to violations of truck rules and NYC law, there has never been wheel washing stations at each exit as promised, and dirt and mud is often tracked from the site. Further, the number of exits/entrances currently in use at the site far exceeds what was anticipated in any environmental analysis.

Inside the construction site trucks are required to obey a 5 mph speed limit.  The video shows trucks apparently traveling too fast on the public section of Pacific Street; an area where the 5 mph speed limit may not apply, but where community life must co-exist with the designated route of Atlantic Yards construction delivery trucks.

Trucks at Atlantic Yards continue to violate site protocols, obstructing a public street

According to incident reports 395 and 399, more violations of the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Regulations, the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and New York City law by Atlantic Yards-related construction trucks took place on Thursday 11/17/11 and Friday 11/18/11.

Trucks are shown idling for more than the 3 minutes allowed by NYC law, parking in travel lanes, and blocking traffic. 

There are currently approximately eleven entrances to the project footprint used by construction-related vehicles. A system set up this summer and fall was designed so that a dispatcher prevents trucks from crossing Carlton Avenue on Pacific Street until the construction entrance designated to receive the trucks signals it is ready.  This protocol apparently broke down, leading to numerous instances of trucks queueing and idling on the public section of Pacific Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton.  This is a violation of the Barclays Center Truck Rules. 

The incident reports describe the dispatcher allowing trucks into the public section of Pacific Street even though it was already obstructed by double-parked cars, one of which turned out to be the illegally parked car of a construction worker.  The construction worker's car contributed to a one-hour blockage of the street.

The impacts described in the incident reports include less safe traffic and pedestrian conditions, blocked traffic, honking, and the air and noise impacts of idling engines.  The reports illustrate a public street in essence turned into an extension of the construction site.

In September 2011, ESDC served FCRC with a "notice of violation" for non-compliance with truck protocols.  Upon serving a notice of a violation, ESDC apparently allows the developer one month to resolve the violations before fines of $1,000 a day are imposed.  The status of the resolution of the September violation is not known at the time of this writing.

Building #2 announcement raises questions about construction plans, parking and open space

The New York Times has unveiled pictures of what may be the first residential building to be built at Atlantic Yards.  If this design is used for what is called Building #2, the 350-unit building will be the tallest using modular construction in the world.  

At the last several District Service Cabinet meetings FCRC Vice Presidents Jane Marshall and Bob Sanna have stated alternate plans using modular and conventional construction are being prepared by FCRC.  The Times notes that "the developer ultimately may instead decide to build the first tower conventionally."  

According to the Wall Street Journal, FCRC will build using modular techniques if an agreement can be reached with the construction unions.  The Journal cites Bruce Ratner that existing incentives for developments where half the units are priced for middle and low income tenants "don't work for a high-rise building that is union-built." Norman Oder in Atlantic Yards Report calls this a "stunning contention" and "astounding admission" because in both 2006 and 2009 the State found plausible the developer's argument it could build the residential development with existing incentives within ten years.  Evidence to the contrary was ignored when those findings were made. 

The Times states FCRC hopes to begin construction early next year.  This information is consistent with statements made by FCRC at the November 3 District Service Cabinet meeting.  The start date for construction has been delayed several times by FCRC.  When the 2009 Modified General Project Plan was approved, Building #2 was expected to start in the fall of 2010. In the fall of 2010, FCRC stated they hoped to start construction in early 2011.  

A lot may have to be accomplished to start construction in the spring of 2012.  The Wall Street Journal states that FCRC does not yet have construction financing in place.  The developer is negotiating with union leaders who had anticipated members would receive higher hourly rates associated with on-site construction.  In order to build using modular techniques, FCRC apparently intends to build a factory to manufacture components, but a location for that factory has not been chosen yet. And other questions with implications for the existing community and the future residents of Building #2 remain unanswered.

Traffic barriers and signs on Pacific Street are restored

After nearly six months, missing traffic barriers, parking regulation signs and traffic signs have been restored to Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues.  The "MPT" (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) measures were the victim of the heavy use of that block by Atlantic Yards related construction trucks.  The parking regulation signs were apparently removed to enable illegal construction worker parking.  

The barriers and signs are "temporary" measures implemented for the period the Carlton Avenue Bridge is closed.  They are designed to delineate for drivers the current mid-block shift of Pacific Street from a westbound one-way to a two-way between 6th Avenue and the entrance to the LIRR ramp into Vanderbilt Railyards.   LIRR vehicles must enter the ramp from the west due to its angle to the street.  With the re-opening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, Pacific Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue will be returned to a two-way for the full-length of the block.

These measures have had to last longer than anticipated because the Carlton Avenue Bridge, originally anticipated to be closed for two years, will have been closed for four and a half years if it opens on the current schedule.  They were restored because a community member raised the issue with NYCDOT.  Although NYCDOT approves MPT measures associated with Atlantic Yards, it is FCRC's contractors who install and maintain them.

Clinton Hill/Bedford Stuyvesant block association calls for traffic calming measures

The Classon, Lexington and Quincy Block Association (CLEXY) has released a petition with over 500 signatures calling for traffic calming measures to address current health and safety risks due to illegal truck usage, speeding and congestion on Classon Avenue.  According to President Laura Benko, the block association is in agreement with the Department of Transportation's plans for traffic calming on Classon, but asks for additional measures because it believes current conditions will be worsened by traffic generated by Atlantic Yards.  

Atlantic Avenue water main installation begins between Carlton and Vanderbilt

The installation of new sewer and water mains on Atlantic Avenue between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues began last night and produced three noise complaints.  Although the work will line some areas of the project's second phase footprint, it is a City project not considered part of Atlantic Yards. 

The work last night involved using an excavator to pound shoring into the ground so that work can take place inside the trench.  That activity can be loud.  This work will continue tonight, as well as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings next week.  The trench will then be temporarily plated and asphalted and the work will move to another location.

The work is occurring at night because Atlantic Avenue is a major thoroughfare.  The project is expected to be completed next summer.  Daytime work in the same vicinity is Atlantic Yards-related.  Apparently, today jackhammering took place underneath Atlantic Avenue inside the railyard.

The Community Construction Liaison for the water and sewer main work on Atlantic Avenue is Kamala Questel from the New York City Department of Design and Construction.  Her office hours are generally Monday through Friday at 936 Fulton Street.  Her telephone number is (718) 789-1464 and her email is atlanticavenueccl@gmail.com.