2006 environmental analysis underestimates extent of construction noise impacts; affected residents left without recourse
AYW has received numerous incident reports about noise from nighttime work in the vicinity of Pacific Street, 4th and Atlantic Avenues beginning in late July. Similar complaints have also been posted on Brownstoner and made to elected officials. The work involves infrastructure for the Barclays Center, and includes street construction with jackhammering.
After following up with the residents who submitted incident reports, AYW has observed the following:
- Some affected residents live outside the zone identified in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) where significant noise impacts were anticipated. Sensitive receptor locations in the 2006 analysis (locations like residences or open space where human activity may be affected by project generated noise) do not account for more recent conversions from commercial to residential in the vicinity of the project site.
- None of the residents complaining have received notice of the noise attenuation measures offered by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).
- The specific noise attenuation measures offered as mitigation (double paned windows and air conditioners) are already in place and residents report they are still kept up at night.
A common complaint in the residents' reports is that their windows are not sufficient to stop the noise caused by the jackhammering, resulting in sleepless nights. The homes of the residents commenting below are labeled on the map above showing the zone significant construction noise impacts were anticipated in the 2006 FEIS (modified from FEIS, figure 17c-2). The anticipated affected area is shaded gray. It is also the zone in which FCRC is required to make noise mitigation measures available to residents.
#1: "I can't sleep. I had a guest leave my apartment at 3am a few weeks ago to stay in a hotel because of the jack hammering...If someone doesn't put a stop to this, I will either have to have my windows soundproofed or move."
"I've been using a window air conditioner to cover the noise so I can get some sleep at night, but I'm concerned about the coming weeks when the weather will surely cool down...As for double paned windows, I believe my building has them already, though cheap and cracked, and they do very little (if nothing at all) to muffle the noise. For the record, no one ever contacted me personally to offer air conditioners or windows." (incident report 326)
A cloud of what appeared to be smoke rose above the arena this morning. The photo above and the time-lapse video below are derived from photography taken from our live camera facing the arena block.
The live camera takes photos every minute. The time stamp on the photos shows the smoke lasting for approximately 15 minutes from 6:46 to 7:00 AM. The images appear to show the cloud moving out of the arena block toward the camera. Air quality is a major concern for the community surrounding the construction site and also presents health hazards for construction workers.
The smoke was first noticed by an Atlantic Yards Watch contributor who was videotaping this morning's truck activity. The incident report filed by that contributor primarily focuses on truck violations, but it also includes video capturing the smoke around the 3:17 mark.
Early morning violations of truck protocols contrast with FCRC statements at Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet
The protocols for construction trucks described "as significantly improved" yesterday by FCRC's Adam Schwartz at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet are documented being repeatedly violated earlier yesterday morning and today by multiple incident reports filed on this website.
Only hours before Schwartz spoke at Brooklyn Borough Hall, project-related trucks were advancing before the receiving gate was ready, idling, standing in no-standing and no parking zones, ignoring a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and not obeying NYCDOT designated truck routes.
At the District Service Cabinet FCRC's Schwartz stated, "the guard does not release trucks from our site until the gate is ready to receive them." The guard is located at Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue. In following this protocol the trucks enter the project site from Vanderbilt Avenue and line up inside the project footprint on the former Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. This is apparently done in the hope of lessening impacts on the residents who live along the stretch of Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues that would not ordinarily be a truck route.
But this protocol was not followed. Instead, the incident reports document trucks lining up on the public portion of Pacific Street at 6th Avenue as well as on 6th Avenue. Trucks are also shown entering one-way Pacific Street the wrong way from 6th Avenue. Although the camera did not pivot in time to capture it, the filer reports 5 trucks enter from Carlton Avenue. Carlton Avenue is not a truck route. The videos also capture trucks driving north on South Portland Street.
FCRC Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte has provided more information about nighttime work in roadways.
She details upcoming work on Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street that will take several weeks, and states the traffic mitigation work that is at least partially responsible for complaints about jackhammering will end before the NYC Marathon in early November. The installation of new water mains on Atlantic Avenue will continue until April 2012. Additional mitigation work such as the construction of sidewalks will continue until August 2012. Nighttime use of the staging area associated with infrastructure work in block 1129 will continue through that time.
Some follow up questions have been sent to LaBonte requesting further information about the flexibility of the contractor's timetable for the mitigation work at 4th Avenue and Atlantic, as well as about the possibility of shifting the location of the late night staging area within block 1129 given nighttime disruptions related to it will continue for nearly a year more.
The 2006 Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) assumed 6th Avenue would be widened between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in order to "facilitate traffic circulation at the project site and provide an alternative route for traffic diverted as a result of the closure of 5th Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues." (FEIS, 12-65)
However, it has emerged this summer that 6th Avenue from Flatbush to Atlantic will not be widened at the time of the arena opening as described in the FEIS. Instead, not only will there be fewer north-south travel lanes at the time of the arena opening than analyzed in the FEIS, there will actually be fewer north/south travel lanes through the project footprint than existed before the street closures that created it in 2010.
The change will surely affect traffic circulation around the arena block, and congestion in the vicinity of the arena may be increased, because one fewer northbound and one fewer southbound travel lane east of the arena from Pacific Street to Flatbush Avenue will exist than was originally anticipated in the traffic analysis for the project. The 6th Avenue Bridge will also have one less southbound lane. The diagram on the left above shows the four lane version of 6th Avenue in the FEIS (Figure 12-5a). To the right above is the two to three lane 6th Avenue as it is shown in the plans currently before NYC DOT.
Atlantic Yards-related work extends to 24 hours a day, resulting in many reported quality of life impacts
Late night and weekend work hours continue to be expanded at Atlantic Yards. The work in the video above takes place at Atlantic and 4th Avenues on a regular basis late at night and is concluded at 6 am. This video is from September 1st.
Normal construction work hours at the site extend from 7 am to 3:30 pm. Work in the arena is now often 24 hours a day during the week and extends into weekends. As of this weekend, work in the Vanderbilt railyard will take place both Saturdays and Sundays. Truck deliveries for the arena have now been moved forward to as early as 6:00 am. Construction staging on block 1129 is active any time extended hours work takes place elsewhere in the footprint or its vicinity.
The number of workers during extended hours is often significantly less than during normal weekday hours. And according to the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, "work that generates high noise levels would be scheduled during weekday daytime hours to the extent feasible...unless required by safety or other agency requirements." Now safety and other agency requirements often appear to override community noise concerns.
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.
Truck deliveries procedures are revised at the site; a new system is introduced with a colored ticket required for entry at some truck entrances
Following months of reports on Atlantic Yards Watch about trucks driving illegal routes, idling, and traveling with uncovered loads in the neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards, a new system of organizing truck deliveries appears to have been put in place by Forest City Ratner this week.
The new system involves a colored ticket which is picked up by drivers on Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue. The drivers then proceed to the gate with the sign that matches the color of their ticket. The ticket is required to enter the gate. The gate associated with the pink delivery ticket is shown to the left.
In August we reported that some truck entrances had been given a letter and number and that an employee of Securitas had been located at Pacific at Carlton to act as a dispatch. That system seems to have been further refined with the addition of the colored tickets that are now picked up by the drivers from the dispatcher.
Last week Atlantic Yards Report posted that ESD had plans to issue a notice of violation to FCRC stating that they were not complying with the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments in relation to truck protocols. FCRC was reportedly to be given 30 days to comply. If still in non-compliance they would then be required to pay a fine of $1,000 per day. According to the ESD's spokesperson Elizabeth Mitchell, it would be the first notice of violation in the history of the project.
Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt has held block parties on Dean Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton for years. That block will soon be sandwiched between the future Barclays Center and its anticipated 1100 space accessory parking lot.
The community near the project, much of it with roots that goes back decades, is now wondering if the block association will be allowed to close the street for block parties in the future. Barclays Center operation may prevent the annual celebration. The quintessential Brooklyn block party has always been one of the highlights of the summer for neighborhood families. Among the popular activities that take place on the street are grilling, dancing, volleyball, basketball and of course catching up with neighbors.
Already anticipated to be impacted significantly by the project plans announced in 2006, the quiet and mostly residential Dean Street, Carlton Avenue and Pacific Streets will likely be further impacted by changes to the plans in 2009 that increased the concentration of arena patrons walking and driving to the east of the arena.
Photographer, (and block association Secretary), Tracy Collins has posted more photographs of this year's block party on the Dean Street Block Association blog "Our Streets - Our Stories."
More than a dozen videos, taken over the course of a single week, document repeated illegal use of Clermont Avenue by fully loaded dump trucks leaving the project site from the Carlton Avenue brige exit. As the videos show, trucks exiting the Carlton Avenue bridge site on to Atlantic make the first left on to Clermont, departing from NYC's designated truck route. Clermont Avenue is a residential street of three story townhouses and a public housing complex and is the location of two public playgrounds (one is part of the Atlantic Terminal Housing; the other, the Cuyler Gore playground, is at intersection of Clermont and Lafayette).
The videos were recorded on three days - August 15, 18 and 19. (There is an AY Watch incident report for each day; while each day's report documents multiple violations.) Most of the trucks had ‘LMC Trucking - USDOT: 1501837’ as vehicle identifiers.
The use of a residential street as a truck route violates NYC City law as well as the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Requirements, which is part of the project's of Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, to be enforced by ESD and Forest City Ratner.
The issue of trucks on residential streets was to be discussed at the July 14 Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, but the meeting ended before the subject was covered. While Forest City Ratner has made some improvements in enforcement of truck requirements, particulary in wheel washing before trucks exit the site, the issue of trucks using residential streets may require coordination with NYPD. NYPD has yet to send a representative to a district service cabinet meeting.
The next meeting of the Service Cabinet will take place on September 15.