On Tuesday, May 22nd FCRC and their traffic consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering will present their long-delayed Transportation Demand Management program (TDM). PHNDC (an Atlantic Yards Watch sponsor) has developed some questions we'd like to hear answered during the presentation.
FCRC is required to implement a TDM as part of the 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC) between FCRC and ESDC. The specific TDM actions required by the MEC are reprinted at the end of this article.
Robust TDM plans include both incentives and disincentives to discourage driving and parking. (AYW has already written about the need for disincentives.) The known details of FCRC’s TDM plan only include incentives. Disincentives such as Residential Parking Permits and an arena parking surcharge can only be implemented with the assistance of the City and State.
The parameters of the TDM, as laid out in the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, are carefully worded in a way that limits FCRC's ongoing responsibility to provide meaningful relief from the large volume of traffic generated by a 19,000 seat venue. Before the opening of the arena, FCRC is required to "implement incentives to reduce traffic demand associated with the operation of the Project to reduce the overall number of vehicles coming to the arena for a Nets game within one-half mile of the arena by 30% of the initially projected demand." (Italics added.) As we discuss further below, the plan's goal isn't actually to reduce the number of arena patrons driving, but the number of patrons driving within a certain radius and at certain times to the arena. We may see less gridlock at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic, but the bridges and local streets - one-half mile removed from the Barclays Center - may still be flooded with traffic.
Unlike most arenas and stadiums in the country, Barclays Center operations are tightly squeezed into residential neighborhoods. Capacity shortfalls in the vicinity of the arena from fewer on-site parking spaces, travel lanes and lay-by lanes than anticipated in the FEIS, should be a meaningful incentive for the TDM to exceed the original performance goals. Even if Forest City claims it will be able to do better than what's required of them, there's no way to verify this: the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments does not require any oversight to evaluate TDM measures beyond the first six-months after the arena opening.
Here are some questions we'd like to have answered by Forest City and Sam Schwartz: