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Sam Schwartz traffic mitigation plan delivers less than was promised

This Tuesday, June 14, Forest City Ratner will present to the public the long- awaited plan to manage traffic resulting from the 19,000 visitors anticipated to come to the Barclay's Arena.  The plan was created by traffic consultant Sam Schwartz and can be viewed here at the ESDC website.  The public presentation will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, (209 Joralemon Street), from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.

Tuesday night will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions, and hopefully get answers, but it is not an opportunity for input from local stakeholders. The plan itself is a fait accompli, approved by ESDC and NYC DOT before the public - and even our elected officials - had a chance to weigh in.

What will you hear on Tuesday night?  The plan largely focuses on untying the knot of traffic at the triangle of Flatbush, Atlantic and Fourth Avenues.  But for those living in the immediate vicinity of the project, many questions are left unanswered. The plan does not address many of the traffic and pedestrian impacts that will result from 19,000 arena patrons coming to the site. Many of the roadway and sidewalk changes outlined in the FEIS are absent from the plan, having either been rejected with no explanation, or put off into the future. It also fails to include emergency egress or security, issues that greatly concern the surrounding neighborhood.

Here’s what we do know:

1).  The plan outlined by Sam Schwartz for traffic mitigations paints only a partial picture of what streets and sidewalks around the Barclays Center will be like during arena events.  As one example, Sam Schwartz’s presentation includes a clearly drawn arrow showing the route they believe northbound traffic on 4th Avenue will take, but there is no information about traffic and pedestrian circulation around the 1100 space surface lot and the arena.  In another example, we still don’t know the egress plan for the 78h Precinct or the 105 Ladder Company, both across the street from the arena.

2).  With Sam Schwartz’s mitigation plan, FCRC is actually delivering less at the time of the arena opening, (fewer travel lanes for traffic, fewer lay-by-lanes, and narrower sidewalks for pedestrians), than was detailed in the FEIS.   This site has already written about the missing green median on Atlantic Avenue as is shown in the drawings of Lauri Olin which would make that area more safe for pedestrians.  In another example 6th Avenue from Atlantic to Flatbush was anticipated to be four lanes wide during arena events.  Apparently now it will be two.  No information has been provided about where the displaced traffic will go.

3).  The technical analysis for the project seems questionable or inadequate in multiple ways due to either incorrect assumptions in the original FEIS, delays in project construction, or changes to the project itself. In one example, the construction of the entire first phase of the project was to be completed within roughly a year of the arena opening.  Now, lane and sidewalk closures are far more likely to disrupt pedestrian and traffic flows around the project site.

We’ll be writing more about the Sam Schwartz plan in the coming weeks.   In the meantime, take a look for yourself, attend the meeting at Borough Hall, and let us know what you think.