Atlantic Ave. bollards finally meet their end


The bollards at Atlantic Ave. have finally been replaced by less intrusive security measures. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

When the Atlantic Ave. Long Island Rail Road terminal opened two and a half years ago, the security measures in front drew immediate criticism. Giant granite slabs — some shaped to serve as benches — blocked entrances and walkways. They formed a ring around the front as impenetrable to people as they were to potential terrorists, and over the past few years, the granite slabs were used more as garbage dumps than anything else. Memorably, No Land Grab called them tombs, and Streetsblog explored how they went above and beyond NYPD-endorsed security guidelines.

After facing constant criticism for 18 months, the MTA announced last August that the bollards would be replaced by more standard security measures. At the time, the authority had no renderings, but reports indicated that the new measures would be standard cylinders that, for better or worse, ring around buildings in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

When I walked by the terminal a few weeks ago, work had finally begun on the bollard replacement project, and last week, Transportation Nation secured some definitive details. Per the MTA’s statement:

“The MTA and the Long Island Rail Road listened to concerns from local elected officials and community leaders who felt the stone bollards were intrusive and out-of-scale at their current size. As part of the original design, there were 15 granite bollards surrounding the new $108 million Atlantic Terminal Pavillion when it opened in January 2010. In consultation with the MTA Police and NYPD, we decided to replace the granite bollards with 60 smaller steel bollards that still meet the security requirements spelled out by the NYPD for public buildings of this kind. The new bollards will be 36 inches in height and approximately 12 inches wide. They will be placed around the perimeter of Atlantic Terminal approximately 4 feet apart.

The removal of the old bollards and the installation of the new bollards is part of [a] comprehensive perimeter security project being undertaken by MTA Capital Construction through a grant from the federal government. On April 12, a contract for the project was awarded to Adtec Enterprises of Mt. Vernon, N.Y., after the company submitted the winning low bid of $3.486 million. The overall project will take one year to complete, but most of the bollards have already been removed and installation of the steel replacements is expected to get underway soon.”

The granite blocks, which weighed around eight tons, have been removed. Yesterday, another reporter tried to venture over to the space to take some photos, and the workers objected. They refused to allow the reporter to take photos of the work in progress, and even after gaining authorization from the MTA press officer, Andrea Bernstein still had some troubles with workers. She snapped her photos, but the objections claiming a homeland security project rang a bit false. The bollards will be in view for all to see soon enough.

Ultimately, the bollards cost $1.2 million to build and another $150,000 to remove. The feds — and taxpayers — are footing the bill for another $3.5 million replacement project. So now a wrong has been righted, and the sidewalks at the intersection of Flatbush Ave. and Ashland and Hanson Places will now be pedestrian-friendly and safe. With a little foresight, this whole thing could have been avoided.

An unrelated reminder: I’m going to be on TV at 7:15 a.m. this morning. Check out Fox 5 for a segment on the Straphangers’ subway report cards.

Categories : Brooklyn

5 Responses to “Atlantic Ave. bollards finally meet their end”

  1. Nyland8 says:

    Hmmm. Well, frankly, I can see why these would be preferable over the standard bollards – depending on the scale of the area to be secured. If the new ones have a four foot gap in between them, then these could have as well … but the picture shows them to be tightly spaced.

    Perhaps a few might have remained in less heavily trafficked pathways, interspersed with more conventional bollards. There’s no law that says that all security fences must look uniform, and I can well imagine a stadium, or other large venue, being surrounded by artful, free-form sculpture that serve the purpose of bollards without looking like them.

    I hope they go to a good home when they’re taken out of service – perhaps the parks department. For the cost and the craftsmanship, they deserve better than a landfill.

    • Those bollards might have worked in a place free of pedestrians. They were not just an eyesore, but they were hard to see around.

      They also quickly became filthy.

      I am glad to see them go.

  2. colin says:

    I’m glad we’re using our limited capital dollars on things like this, and not projects that could actually improve transit capacity.

  3. Michael says:

    This project looks more like a waterproofing repair than just a barricade/bollard switch. I’m curious why they have had to remove all the side walk and plaza over the buried portion of Atlantic Terminal rather than just demolishing the tomb’s and locally removing the sidewalk to install the new bollards.

    Also, the costs and time frame for this project are way out of line for just replacing bollards, even for a government contract. There is no way that any contractor would need one year construct foundations or anchorages for bollards and patch the side walk. There must be a larger scope to this project to require that cost and time.

    I think the MTA may be using the opportunity portray this project as solely a replacement of the awful pedestrian barrier tomb’s to repair defective waterproofing installed below the sidewalk and avoid any political embarrassment. I have see far too many basement waterproofing systems fail immediately after construction and need similar repairs.

    • Subutay Musluoglu says:

      While I agree that a year or more for this work is probably longer than it needs to be, think of each bollard structure as an iceberg – what you see above the sidewalk level is actually quite less that what is beneath, and the reason for that is that it needs to be anchored deep and firm, so it is essentailly immoveable and robust enough to stop a truck filled with explosives from actually making contact with the facility being defended. And when you go that deep, then yes, the waterproofing needs to be redone, because you have compromised the integrity of the original installation. It is indeed a shame that money is being spent to fix this mistake, and I wonder if we will ever find out who was responsible for this error and the resultant waste. I am assuming that the new bollards will be quite similar to what was installed around the perimeter of Grand Central Terminal almost 10 years ago, which begs the question – if they were good enough for GCT, then why not for Atlantic Terminal? And BTW – the GCT bollards took over a year and half to install, and this was in the aftermath of 9/11, when the city’s and nation’s anxiety was at a fever pitch. And in the decade since they were installed, it’s also become apparent that the waterproofing was indeed compromised, so some time in the next year or so, the sidewalk around GCT will be torn up once again, as part of a larger project to address the leaks coming into the GCT trainshed from all of the surrounding streets, which act as the roof of the trainshed.

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