DOT approves plan for arena block bollards after yet another Technical Memo attempts to patch a flawed analysis
When in August 2011 plans for the installation of security bollards around Barclays Center submitted by FCRC to NYCDOT were made available to the public, AYW noted that the sidewalks as shown in the plans were in some cases significantly narrower than had been disclosed in the 2006 environmental analysis under which the Atlantic Yards project was approved. The photos above and below show the existing street corner as well as the sidewalk that extends from it along Atlantic Avenue, but the sidewalk will actually be two feet narrower at the time Barclays Center opens than it is in its existing condition.
For at least the third time since construction began on Barclays Center, a signal light at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street has been knocked down. The photo above left is from last week. To the right is a photo of the signal light damaged (but not knocked down) in July. At the bottom of the story is a sequence showing an Atlantic Yards construction delivery truck in July working its way around the corner with the assistance of flaggers.
ESDC says generators not to be used again at the Pacific Street/Carlton Avenue location "in the near future"
According to ESDC Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin, the generators used for the rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge will not return to Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue "in the near future."
Ms. Hankin informed us, "The generator was placed on the street because there was no space in the yard where the generator could have been placed to do the necessary work on the south abutment of the bridge. If there is a need to use the generator in this area again, the contractors will be required to use noise attenuating blankets."
The generators were placed in that location without any noise attenuation, apparently in violation of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. The MEC details the use of noise barriers, equipment enclosures and perimeter fencing made of 3/4 inch plywood to mitigate noise impacts. None of those measures were implemented in this case. The generators were located approximately 50 feet from residences and only a short distance from the construction offices housing FCRC's contractors.
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.
Generators adjacent to perimeter fencing across from residences, and the absence of barriers to shield the residences from the noise they generate, appear to violate both the spirit and the letter of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. The generators are apparently being used to facilitate construction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.
They are situated directly across the street from residences on the north sidewalk of Pacific Street at the location of the Carlton Avenue Bridge. They are in a highly visible location close to the construction offices and along the walking route between the construction offices and the arena construction site.
A recent incident report declaims, "Their generator is making me crazy !!!!" It asks, "Is there any way we can have them "plug" their damn equipment in instead of using the damn generator ALL DAY EVERYDAY?!?!!? It is really starting to drive me nuts!"
A resident with a decibel reader registered 98 decibel level outdoors in the vicinity of one generator Saturday, December 17th at 6 pm. According to the Guide to the NYC noise code, a train has a decibel level of 100dB(A) and a lawnmower has a decibel level of 85 to 90 dB(A). The guide explains a decibel is a logarithmic unit, "which means that a noise measuring 30 decibels is actually 10 times louder than a noise that registering at 20 decibels." A measurement of 45 dB is recommended indoors and should not exceed 65 dB. Outdoor walls and windows are anticipated to reduce noise levels by 15 dB. Residential units are located roughly 50 feet from the location of the generators.
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.
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.
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.
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.