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On transit improvements at Atlantic Yards

by Benjamin Kabak

Renderings of the Barclays Center show a new planned subway entrance, but we do not yet know how access to the platforms will be reconfigured.

At the crossroads of Atlantic Ave. and Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn rests one of the borough of Kings’ busiest subway stations. Over the next few years, it’s only going to get worse, but proposals to expand and adapt the station to new uses from the Barclays Center and, eventually, Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards complex have yet to see the light of day.

The brouhaha over the Atlantic Yards is a well-covered story. Under heavy pressure from local politicians, the MTA, as we know, sold out the air rights over the Vanderbilt Rail Yards to Bruce Ratner for well below-market. Originally, Ratner planned to build a new basketball arena for the Nets along with a massive mixed-use complex at the corner of three low-rise brownstone neighborhoods. Due to the financial crisis, though, the plans for the array of towers were shelved, but progress on the arena, set to open in September of 2012, has moved forward.

Late last week, though, Ratner announced plans to build some of the Atlantic Yards towers in 2012. With some financing in place, Ratner will build a 32-story residential building at Flatbush Ave. and Dean Street. that will house 350 units. The current plans include 14 other residential buildings, including one of 50 stories.

Enter the Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. In terms of those swiping in, the station is the third busiest in Brooklyn and the 30th most popular in the city. In 2010, over 10.1 million straphangers entered the station, and the station saw an increase of traffic of 4.4 percent over 2009. That tells only part of the story though as the station serves as a major transfer point between the subway and the LIRR as well as an inter-system transfer point between the 4th Ave. lines, the IRT and the Brighton Line.

So what happens when the Barclays Center and, eventually, the Atlantic Yards complex opens? Right now, the station has a variety of entrances from various street corners. There’s an entrance to the 4th Ave. platform at 4th Ave. and Pacific St., an entrance to the LIRR and the local Manhattan-bound IRT station in the Atlantic Center and an entrance to the Brighton Line off of Hanson Place. It isn’t perfect, but it works.

Meanwhile, changes are in store. As the renderings for the Barclays Center show, work on the arena includes a new street-level entrance to the Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. station that will go from the plaza outside of the arena to, well, somewhere, and the fact that the “somewhere” is undefined is concerning. Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked the MTA for renderings of the subway improvements, and although the arena and work on subway access has been long-planned and will open in ten months, the MTA doesn’t yet have renderings. They have only schematics that have yet to be released to the public, and we have no idea how the flow of people will be improved or addressed at a major subway location in Brooklyn.

When the Atlantic Yards project was first negotiated, transit improvements were part of the deal. To add so many people to a small area right on top of an already-busy subway station was simply inviting transit capacity disaster, and Ratner pledged to improve the Atlantic Ave./Pacific St. subway station and also the LIRR terminal. So far, all we know for sure is that the subway stop will bear Barclays’ name when the arena opens. Anything else is conjecture.

Ultimately, these designs will be released for the public, but as Ratner begins to work on the new Atlantic Yards terminals, he shouldn’t get off so lightly. Transit improvements and a plan to address the added demand his units will bring must be a part of the planning process as his buildings move forward. To avoid the subject will leave straphangers out in the cold.

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Brian November 21, 2011 - 1:21 am

“we know for sure is that the subway stop will bear Barclays’ name when the arena opens”

so then why is it Mets Willets point and not Willets point-Citi Field?

Ian W. November 21, 2011 - 1:34 am

Barclays agreed to pay the MTA for the naming rights. Citibank refused.

Alex C November 21, 2011 - 2:16 am

I actually don’t mind the name. Unlike AT&T Station in Philadelphia, Barclays doesn’t totally have that sell-out sound since Barclays isn’t really a corporate-sounding name. Not sure how much sense I’m making here, but just the name Barclays Station sounds good.

Joe Steindam November 21, 2011 - 8:30 am

I’m pretty sure the station will read “Atlantic Ave/Pacific St-Barclays” for the 4th Ave platform and “Atlantic Ave/Barclays” for the rest of the complex.

Alex C November 21, 2011 - 9:51 am

Well if that’s the case I take back what I said. That sounds awful, like one of those WMATA MetroRail station names that has to include everything within 2 miles of the station.

Mike g November 21, 2011 - 6:58 am

I don’t get what you are looking for here… Everyone knows that the “Transit Connection” to Barclays is being worked on and is scheduled for completion before the arena opens. They have construction documents for it but that stuff is typically confidential info. So you’re complaining that they won’t give you confidential info? Renderings aren’t always needed or made for every single construction project you know, especially since this project is funded by Ratner, not the MTA

Benjamin Kabak November 21, 2011 - 9:34 am

They have construction documents for it but that stuff is typically confidential info….Renderings aren’t always needed or made for every single construction project you know, especially since this project is funded by Ratner, not the MTA

Clearly, I disagree with both of your statements here. Renderings that highlight transit improvements and the planning documents related to them are not generally kept confidential. Furthermore, just because Ratner is funding the project doesn’t mean renderings aren’t needed or that keeping them under wraps for so long should be excused. As Larry noted below, there are some major concerns over pedestrian safety, and there’s been nothing released to assuage those worries.

Jorge November 21, 2011 - 7:16 am

For my first three years in NYC, I didn’t realize that Atlantic Ave. and Pacific St. were the same station. Not having the station be renamed, to me, would be denying the eyesore is even there. We have to be beyond that at this point.

That being said, my bigger hope is that people are, in fact, using the train at all to get to the games, and not creating the traffic/parking clusterfuck I fear. I can live with throngs of people crossing over from Atlantic Terminal.

SEAN November 21, 2011 - 9:42 am

I remember hearing the same complaints when the new Yankee Stadium was about to open in 2009. Why did they add all those parking spaces, why is the MNR station costing so much, yada yada yada. Now look at what has happened over the past few years, ridership on the subway is still high & Metro-North service to the stadium is an enormous hit. As for those garages, they are gigantic money pits. It maybe a bit early to project, you could see the same thing happening here as well since driving to downtown Brooklyn can be a challenge at almost any hour of the day.

John Telesca November 21, 2011 - 8:01 am

This is what I think is getting doen –
You can see the subway entrance construction work from the south end of the Manhattan bound 2 & 3 trains. There used to be an underpass connection between the 3 IRT platforms at that end but it was closed off for decads. It had two street entrances on either side of Flatbush Avenue – one where the Barclays Center is getting built, the other in front of Modells. An expansion of this underpass has got to be it.

Larry Littlefield November 21, 2011 - 8:32 am

The subway station as more than enough capacity to handle the new riders. The critical issue is making sure those entering and exiting the arena don’t have to cross Flatbush/Atlantic to get there. Nor should they all be funneled into that one narrow underpass from the Brighton to Pacific Street Station.

Rob November 21, 2011 - 9:20 am

This is Brooklyn, heavy on pedestrian and bike usage. The roads around the plaza have 7 lanes and far distances between crosswalks. Recipe for disaster. And where are the bike lanes?

Al D November 21, 2011 - 9:43 am

I don’t know. The basement that’s the D & Q has a pretty small platform.

Jeff November 21, 2011 - 9:50 am

They don’t have to cross anything – there’s a new subway entrance right in front of the entrance to the arena.

Larry Littlefield November 21, 2011 - 9:52 am

The question is where to you go from there, and how many people can move through at once. It has to have enough capacity do that those exiting the area are not tempted to surge across the roadways to avoid the crush.

Bike access is pretty good. That’s how I plan to get there, if there is secure parking.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines November 21, 2011 - 9:00 am

[…] Where Are the Renderings of Atlantic Yards Transit Improvements? (2nd Ave Sagas) […]

boerumhillscott November 21, 2011 - 9:54 am

Figures 13-5 to 13-7 on the Final EIS seem to present a pretty clear picture of how the new entrance will work.

The fare control area will be one level down on the same block as the area. You can see the entrance being built now.

There will be ramp access to the south end of the uptown local IRT platform.
There will be ramp access to the closed IRT underpass with stairs to to the south ends of express and downtown local platforms.
There will be star and escalator access to the south end of the B/Q platform via a closed mezzanine.

Access to the Pacific station will require going through the underpass and along the local downtown platform.

There will be no free access from the area block to the LIRR.


Clarke November 21, 2011 - 10:21 am

Where exactly is the subway entrance in that rendering? Is it inside of that Amsterdam-style grassy hill?

Benjamin Kabak November 21, 2011 - 10:23 am

Yes. That houses a staircase/escalator that rises from the subway and/or LIRR level. I’m just not sure where in the complex passengers will ascend from/descend to.

boerumhillscott November 21, 2011 - 10:24 am

Yes, the entrance is in the hill.

Eventually, the plans are to build a large office building with ground level publicly accessible “Urban Room” that would include the entrance, but that depends on the market for office space in Brooklyn turning around.

Bobbo November 21, 2011 - 11:01 am

I can’t believe that nowhere in this article can be found 1) the Barclays Center Transit Connection is costing $72 million, more than half of which has been spent; 2) is scheduled for completion in late April, not “ten months”; and 3) there are photographs of the work available, at the bottom of this document, http://emma.msrb.org/ER524263-.....806801.pdf, which is public.

And really, I mean really, more than $40 million has been spent on this project and “the MTA doesn’t yet have renderings”? You cannot really believe that, can you? They may not have them available for publication or may not want to give them to you, but to suggest that $40 million has been spent on construction and “the MTA doesn’t yet have renderings” is ludicrous.

Benjamin Kabak November 21, 2011 - 11:14 am

I’m not “suggesting” anything, Bobbo. I’m simply reporting what the MTA told me. Photographs of the work in progress doesn’t equate with plans to control for people flow. The most recent public renderings of the project are five years old. If you’re satisfied with that, so be it. I’m not.

Jeff November 21, 2011 - 12:07 pm

The plans for the Transit Connection were released five years ago, as boerumhillscott’s post above shows. The documents clearly show what work is being performed and how they plan to address people flow.

The project was delayed a few years in court by NIMBYs, so if nothing’s changed since the time the project was set in stone, there’s no reason for them to issue updated renderings or plans.

De November 24, 2011 - 12:49 pm

The plan is going to failed

boerumhillscott November 21, 2011 - 11:20 am

Looking at the construction going on, it appears that what is being built is exactly what is in the FEIS.

It is sad that the MTA can’t give any more info.
Even though they are not the ones funding or managing the construction, they certainly know what is being done.

Steve November 21, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Most of the Barclays event traffic will arrive towards the later half of the evening rush hours so transit congestion generated by the arena should be manageable. People coming inbound to Barclays from outlying points in Brooklyn (and via the LIRR from Queens, Nassau or Suffolk) will help fill empty seats on trains.

Dan November 21, 2011 - 10:21 pm

I agree that it’s probably a connection to the IRT since it looks closest to where the current IRT entrances are. Not sure if the location would allow direct access to the other subways or the LIRR platforms, but we’ll find out soon enough!

Today’s Headlines | Body Local NYC November 22, 2011 - 8:36 am

[…] Where Are the Renderings of Atlantic Yards Transit Improvements? (2nd Ave Sagas) […]

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[…] On transit improvements at Atlantic Yards. [2nd Ave. Sagas] […]

jj December 4, 2011 - 11:45 am

Can’t wait for this project to be finished , it will be a huge positive for that neighborhood after many years of neglect , bickering and insanity


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