ESDC's flawed analysis of sidewalk widths highlights risk in privatizing arena planning and oversight
(Based on research by Peter Krashes and Danae Oratowski)
In response to an AYW story showing the effective sidewalk widths on the arena block are going to be narrower than ESDC's 2006 environmental analysis has assessed, the agency's environmental monitor HDR submitted a Technical Memorandum to the Department of Transportation revising effective sidewalk widths and reassessing the sidewalks' level of service.
HDR's Technical Memorandum about the arena block's sidewalks is flawed. It incorrectly applies its own formula for assessing effective sidewalk widths. As a result of that mistake the Technical Memorandum overstates the effective widths of numerous sidewalks on the arena block by several feet. And HDR uses outdated pedestrian numbers from the 2006 FEIS even though the sidewalk conditions being analyzed should be based on the 2009 Modified General Project Plan.
As a result, the level of service calculations (which relate the number of pedestrians anticipated to use a sidewalk in a period of peak use to the sidewalk's capacity) are invalid and should not be accepted.
Patch reports the area eligible to receive rodent proof trash cans has been expanded into a portion of Fort Greene. This news follows Council Member James' request at the last District Service Cabinet that the distribution area for cans be expanded into Fort Greene as a response to complaints from community members.
Previously distribution was confined to the area from the east side of 4th Avenue to the east side of Vanderbilt Avenue south of the project site. During the last distribution of cans in August, they were available to residents of buildings with 12 units or less. According to Patch 150 trash cans will be distributed as early as this weekend to residents in the vicinity of South Oxford Street.
One filer of an incident report living in Fort Greene at Fulton Street and South Portland Avenue wrote, "We have never had such a severe rat infestation in the 28 years I've been around."
In the meantime, within the area that lidded cans were distributed over the summer residents raised the issue of rodents again at the Carlton Avenue Block Association and the Dean Street Block Association (DSBA) meetings in mid-September.
At the Carlton Avenue meeting it was reported that rats were still seen on Carlton between Dean Street and St. Marks Avenue.
At the DSBA meeting residents reported Dean Street near Carlton Avenue is improved but not rodent free. They reported problems continue on Pacific Street near 6th Avenue with multiple sightings in September from people leaving Newswalk. Problems also continue across the street from the fire station on Dean (the photo of a dead rodent was taken in that location 9/18).
A resident of 6th Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets says conditions are better, but not resolved.
Construction hours in New York City generally span the period from 7 am to 6 pm weekdays. One work shift five days a week from 7 am to 3:30 pm is the norm.
Atlantic Yards is different with extended construction hours taking place throughout the project and its vicinity. Even though the developer currently is a leaseholder of a little more than half of the project's prospective 22 acre site, construction still takes place throughout much of the 22 acres. And construction in every location has been allowed by the State and City agencies that oversee the work to extend beyond NYC's normal weekday construction hours.
The map above is indexed to show the locations where permission to conduct work outside of normal construction hours is detailed in the Atlantic Yards Construction Update dated from September 25th to October 9th. The 2006 footprint of the project is highlighted in orange; areas with active construction work are a stronger orange.
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.