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Live Blogging: Barclays Center Traffic Mitigation Plan Public Meeting

Here's the blow-by-blow of Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner's plan to stem the onslaught of cars come the fall.

Welcome to live blogging of Forest City Ratner’s presentation of how it will traffic around the 19,000-seat Barclays Center . (Click here for .)

Here we'll give you dispatches from the public meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Give us your take on the plan in the comments below. 

Note: The live blog concluded at 8:45 p.m.

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6:15 p.m.: The ESDC's Arana Hankin is introducing the plan to a room of several dozen community members and reporters. The powerpoint presentation of the plan will be on the Empire State Developmen Corporation's website later tonight, she said. 7:22 p.m.: Hankin just provided us with a working link

Forest City Ratner's senior vice president Jane Marshall: "We look forward to working with all the stakeholders … to come up with the best possible plan to get people out of their cars and onto public transportation."

6:25 p.m.: Transportation engineer Sam Schwartz presents his plan: My message is "Don't even think of driving to the arena." We will maximize transit and encorage sustainable transportation choices. We also will do our best to reduce the impact of people coming to the arena to people in the community. 

6:30 p.m.: Schwartz on what they're planning to do to mitigate traffic:

- instititue an education and cross promotion program 

- reduce on-site parking to discourage driving

- establish a coordinated parking system

- develop event day operations plans

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6:38 p.m.: 

Schwartz said that the education program will work because it's worked with Citi Field and the Ikea shuttle. Furthermore, in focus groups, the percentage of people who said they would take public transportation to games jumped 9 percent after those surveyed were told about the transportation options.

Marketing of the transportation options for the arena will be ubiquitous. Every single piece of advertising will include information about the subway lines, as will the actual tickets. Barclays will not even give driving directions to the arena, Schwartz said.

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6:44 p.m.:

Cross marketing plans with the MTA: the Atlantic Avenue station is now called Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center Schwartz said.  

MTA spokeswoman Judy McClain said they would do their best to ensure that existing riders were not overwhelmed by Barclays riders. Here's what the MTA plans to do to enhance service:

- The MTA will be in communication with dispatchers at Barclays. They will find out what time the games will break and have empty trains waiting ready to load passengers. 

- There will be extra Q and No. 4 trains after games.

- They will also have empty buses waiting to pick people up after the game.

- There will also be additional LIRR trains available after games (twice as many trains as usual, Schwartz added later).

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6:57 p.m.

Schwartz on parking strategies:

- limit on-site parking ( plus 24 for the NYPD)

- divert traffic from the BQE to lots just off the highway. People will be bused to the game from there. 

- Have people reserve spots online in advance at off-site parking facilities, where there will be free shuttle buses to the game. Spots there will be at least 50 percent off the market price. Because people are reserving spots online, they will pay for them in advance, streamlining operations and will prevent people from circling looking for parking since they will know where they are going. 

- Will provide 400 bike parking spaces (but , as originally promised). Security staff will be present at Nets games, but not necessarily other times. 

- Cross marketing with area businesses (discounts for meals after games, for example). This will spread out the traffic over time. 

- Event operations will be coordinated with the NYPD, DOT, MTA and other local agencies

- Will tweet traffic alerts during the game

===

Next steps: 

- There is now a 30-day comment period on the plan. You can submit your comments via e-mail at AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov. 

- The plan will be finalized

- There will be a reassessment of the plan six months after the arena opens and continued refinement.

===

7:07 p.m. 

The public was given index cards to write their questions on, which were read aloud by CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. Here are selected questions and answers.:

- What's happening with residential permit parking? 

The DOT's Chris Hrones said his department is looking into it and working on a report that will be presented to the City Council soon. That said, the state would have to approve it and it would take nine to 12 months to implement it, he said. (After the meeting, Hrones said the report would be ready within a few weeks, but declined to say whether it will find permit parking viable.)

- What are the disincentives to prevent people from circling the neighborhood looking for parking?

Schwartz: The remote lots and shuttle buses with the online reservation system.

- Will the shuttle buses stop in other neighborhoods (such as Fifth Avenue in Park Slope) to bring them business?

Schwartz: No.

- What route will the shuttle buses take?

Schwartz: One route will be along Fourth Avenue, along an existing bus route.

- Will there be any bus-only lanes during games on Atlantic or Flatbush?

Schwartz: No. 

- What will you do to ensure pedestrian safety?

Ashley Cotton, vice president of external affaris at Forest City Ratner: Barclays will pay for extra police officers around the arena.

- Are there any anticipated traffic pattern changes in the area around the arena once it opens?

Schwartz: No. We might change some traffic signal timings, but no other changes planned. 

- Is the Traffic Demand Mitigation Plan the same for other events as it is for Nets games?

Schwartz: Yes for other larger events, but unlikely for small (3,000 to 5,000 person events). 

- How will personnel be deployed to make sure the bikes are safe?

Schwartz: Security guards will be at the bike lot from about an hour before the games to an hour or two after. (However Schwartz noted in the presentation that the guards will only be at the bike lot during Nets games.)

- Will Barclays coordinate with BAM when there are concurrent events? 

Marshall (I think): Yes.

- What are the performance goals and how will they be measured after the plan is in place?

Schwartz: The goals are 28 percent using mass transit during weekdays 

Auto share goals 28.3 percent on weekdays, 32.0 percent on weekends 

Schwartz said he would provide a report to the community of congestion levels, subway turnstile counts and other measures.

- How will the taxi station work on S. Portland Ave.?

Schwartz: There will be a line of taxis on St. Portland Ave.

- Of the people in your focus group, where were they from?

Schwartz: We'll get back to you on that, but it's a cross-section of people from the metropolitan area.

- Are there any penalties for not meeting the goals of the plan?

Jane Marshall: No.

- Do you know yet how many participating parking lots and spots there will be? 

Schwartz: Not yet. 

- When are you going to let us know the details of the surface lot?

Jane Marshall said she couldn't give an exact date but they were coming. She also noted that the lot would have landscaping.

- Will there be a charge to area businesses for the cross marketing?

Cotton: No. 

- What incentives will there be to get patrons to move on to local businesses rather than hanging out outside the arena?

Cotton: Private security around the arena will keep people from being rowdy and beyond that there's the NYPD. 

- How will you encourage greater review and feedback from the broader community (especially those who aren't online)?

Cotton: We're open to ideas. We advertised this meeting in the newspaper and through community boards. We're happy to do abbreviated presentations at individual community board meetings and other places.

- Will there be reduced prices for subway and LIRR tickets?

Schwartz: Subway is cheap, we're not going to be offering free metrocards at this time. 

- What will you do to reduce drunk driving?

Cotton: There will be a designated driving program. Drunk guests will not be allowed into the building. Bartenders are trained not to overserve people so they will not be intoxicated when they leave the arena.

- Why are you offering half-priced parking? Won't that encourage them to drive?

Schwartz: The half-price parking is at the remote lots which will keep cars away from the immediate area. 

- How will construction on the residential towers affect access to the arena?

Marshall: We're working on a plan, which will be approved by the DOT. Before we break ground we will come up with those plans and present them in detail to the community. 

- Would you consider pedestrain bridges at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues?

Schwartz: No. Most people will not use them, experience shows.

- How will you prevent cars from using Classon Avenue as a major freeway to the BQE, since Classon is currently the first legal left turn off Atlantic Avenue?

Chris Hrones of the DOT: I know there have been concerns about this. We're currently instituting a and we will be monitoring volumes on Classon before and after the arena opens. If the impacts are really signifcant there we will try to institute countermeasures. 

Any plans to have a shuttle bus from the ferry to the arena?

Schwartz: No.

Will curbside parking rules be enforced?

Schartz (I think): We are working with the NYPD on enforcement strategies once the arena opens. 

What security measures will be in place to protect the arena from bombs, since the curb is now less than 20 feet from the arena? 

Cotton: I know our ops team is working with homeland security and other teams to make sure this building is safe. And if there is ever an incident, we have plans for how to deal with it. 

Will the ESDC release the studies used to create the Traffic Demand Management Plan during the review period?

ESDC's Rachel Schatz: We'll release them when we release the final plan.

When the circus comes to the Barclays Center when will you walk the animals?

Schwartz: In the middle of the night. It's a sight to be seen. Bring your kids out.

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8:06 p.m. 

The meeting is over. After hearing the presentation, Tom Boast, vice president of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council said he is most disappointed that the plan doesn't include increased parking prices.

"Even Forest City’s consultants, Sam Swartz has said increasing the price of parking is a common element of TDM (Traffic Demand Management) plans. There’s nothing in the plan to increase the price of parking."

But, he added, "To increase the price of parking, the city and the state have to be the leaders."

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10:13 p.m. Additional reactions from meeting attendees:  

Gib Veconi, treasurer of PHNDC agreed. “We heard a lot tonight about a marketing plan. What we did not hear is anything related to real meaningful disincentives that will actually motivate behavior like residential parking permits and parking surcharges. … They’ve reduced their onsite capacity, and without anything else done in the part of government to provide disincentives to drive.”

Veconi added that the details—such as the hours of operation and plans for landscaping, staffing and lighting—for the surface lot between Carlton, Pacific, Dean and Vanderbilt were supposed to be included in the plan released tonight

Danae Oratowski, PHNDC’s chair,  said she is most concerned about the lack of leverage and oversight to make sure Forest City Ratner creates an effective traffic mitigation plan “beyond a single study done six months after the arena opens.”

“If this plan is not successful, they won’t be held accountable for it,” she said.

But Rob Perris, district manager of Community Board 2 which includes Fort Greene and Boerum Hill, said he remains optimistic.

“I think it is a good starting point from which we can hopefully build an ongoing plan that minimizes traffic as much as possible,” he said.  

“It’s easy for people to imagine a worst-case scenario hypothetically and discuss it in a way that almost makes it seem like it’s happening now. It’s not happening now.”

Perris believes that eventually, most patrons will decide to use public transportation to get to the arena.  

“There will be a period in the first few months of operation," he said, "when people will choose to drive, and they’ll find that it’s just not a good way to get to the Barclays Center.”

Norman Oder May 23, 2012 at 12:20 PM
here's additional coverage of the meeting: http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2012/05/meeting-on-tdm-plan-is-cordial.html
Tom Boast May 23, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Interesting to note that staff at Sam Schwartz Engineering described TDM in a March 2009 professional paper: "TDM measures frequently include encouraging a modal shift away from the single occupancy vehicle by improving the convenience and availability of other modal options such as public or private transit, bicycling, walking, and carpooling. Other common TDM measures include congestion or parking pricing programs, or preferred parking for carpools and transit users." Concerned citizens should call on the State and the City (i.e., the Governor and the Mayor) to authorize and implement the other half of TDM plans excluded from the FCR plan presented by Schwartz: congestion and parking pricing programs (i.e., removing "free" parking on residential streets with a RPP program) and preferred parking for carpools.
Marc May 24, 2012 at 01:29 AM
They're building the airplane as it taxis down the run way. They have half a plan and are already pointing fingers (at government) for not having the other half. What countermeasures are they thinking about if Classon becomes congested? What makes them think patrons will want to take shuttle buses (adding a half hour or more to their departure time)? What will they do when it all comes to a crashing halt? These are the same people who didn't plan an arena that can accommodate hockey seating but wants to bid for the Islanders!

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