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April 4, 2012

Barclays Center Mysteries: Three Big Unknowns About Arena Transportation

by Norman Oder

In less than six months, toward the end of September, the Barclays Center will open and throngs of visitors will descend on the streets of Prospect Heights and nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods. While numerous concerts and sports events have already been booked, the transportation picture remains fuzzy even this close to opening day. Three big unknowns:

  • The plan to encourage arenagoers to use transit, originally due last December, is now expected in May.
  • Developer Forest City Ratner hasn’t revealed the size of the surface parking lot next to the arena, even though construction begins next month.
  • The long-closed Carlton Avenue Bridge (below), a key conduit between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene and a critical link in the Brooklyn bike network, is now due to reopen just before the arena debuts, and state officials don’t acknowledge that the bridge is behind schedule.

The arena location — next to Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub, with nine subways and the Brooklyn terminus of Long Island Rail Road — means, as Streetsblog suggested last June, that “the fundamentals for a smart solution are there.” Indeed, the arena website proclaims, “Public transit is the fastest, most convenient way to travel here.” A new subway entrance, leading to the plaza outside the arena, is under construction.

It’s not clear, however, how persuasive the inducements to ride transit will be. The promised Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan for the arena — which would define transit incentives, catalog nearby parking facilities accessible via shuttle buses, and present a cross-marketing program with local businesses — is behind schedule. At first, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, “anticipated” that the plan would be available by December 2011. That goal was nudged back to February 2012, and then to May – limiting the opportunity for public input promised by ESD.


Posted by eric at April 4, 2012 12:46 PM