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Lay-by lane capacity at Barclays Center to be less than analyzed in 2006 environmental review; change may increase congestion around arena block

At the time the Sam Schwartz mitigation plan was detailed to the public in June, AYW reported that Barclays Center will have less in place at the time of the arena opening than anticipated in the 2006 FEIS:  "fewer travel lanes for traffic, fewer lay-by lanes, and narrower sidewalks for pedestrians."

Thanks to the bollard plans before NYCDOT, it is now possible to see more clearly how this is so in relation to the arena block.  In publishing the bollard plans several weeks ago, we wrote about the reduced effective widths of many of the sidewalks around the arena.  The state of the lay-by lanes at the time of the arena opening will be similar, with one permanently changed and others with no construction schedule.  

The function of lay-by lanes is to take traffic stopped for loading or unloading out of travel lanes.  Fewer lay-by lanes mean there is a higher degree of risk for vehicle/vehicle and vehicle/pedestrian conflicts.  It also potentially means increased congestion around the arena block.  

The original 2006 project plan included lay-by lanes accommodating approximately 61 vehicle spaces on the arena block.  This included 14 spaces in two lay-by areas on Flatbush, 7 spaces on Dean Street, 6 spaces on 6th Avenue, and 34 spaces on Atlantic Avenue.   An additional lay-by-lane was to be located on Pacific Street adjacent to Site 5 within one year.  Soon thereafter, lay-by lanes were to appear nearby in the second phase of the project which was to be completed in ten years.  But the timetable of delivery of lay-by lanes changed in 2009 when the project plans were renegotiated to provide the developer up to 12 years to complete its obligations on the arena block as part of the first phase of the project's development.

As a result,  the only lay-by lanes certain to be in place at the time of the arena opening and be unimpeded by construction are located on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.  The revised project plans also raise the possibility for sidewalk and lane closures in the event three or four buildings will now be constructed surrounding an operating arena over the course of the next 11 or more years, a situation analyzed in neither the 2006 FEIS nor the 2009 Technical Memorandum.  No vehicular or pedestrian traffic analysis exists of the actual lay-by area condition that will be in place at the time of the arena opening and which will likely remain for years to come. 

Now, instead of 61 spaces at the arena opening, there will be not more than 49, a 20% reduction.  Capacity may be less than 49 if 7 spaces on Dean are blocked due to construction of building 2.  Even if those spaces are restored, the next set of lost lay-by lane spaces will proceed if and when construction continues.

As AYW previously reported, the effective width of the sidewalk on the south side of Atlantic Avenue near 6th Avenue has been reduced from the 13.5 feet studied in 2006 to 5.5 feet or less in the drawings submitted to NYCDOT.  Its narrower width may affect use of the lay-by lane planned for Atlantic Avenue. The lay-by lane on 6th Avenue is not shown in the current plans, and is affected by both the elimination of the rebuilding of the 6th Avenue Bridge, and the postponed construction of buildings 3 and 4. The sidewalk adjacent to the curbside space along the north side of Pacific Street (included in 2009 as a rationale for not finding an impact from the permanent elimination of one lay-by lane on Flatbush) has been reduced to an actual width of 5 feet (and an effective width of 1.5 to 3 feet depending on the standard used) making it less likely to be viable as a pull-over area at this time.  Site 5 has no construction schedule, and neither does the lay-by lane associated with it on Pacific Street between Flatbush and 4th Avenues.



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