Latest Brooklyn Bridge Gateway plan ignores Concord Village concerns

City to Brooklyn Bridge neighbors upset by revamp plan: Deal with it

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The city is ignoring pleas from Brooklyn Bridge neighbors who asked to be spared a lane change that would bring bridge-bound cars closer to their doorstep.

The Department of Transportation rejected a series of demands made by Adams Street residents to modify its revamp plan for the run-up to the borough’s most iconic span, which is supposed to make the area less congested and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Adams apartment-dwellers-turned-activists, who dread the car traffic coming one lane closer to their buildings, said that the city made a show of listening to their concerns about increased noise while planning to run roughshod over the suggestions the whole time.

“The DOT had their plan all along,” said Peter Liuzzo, a resident of the Concord Village complex, where most of the dissent is coming from. “It’s been a sort of charade as far as listening to public comments.”

The road agency sent a letter to Downtown’s Community Board 2 on March 31, explaining planners’ decision to not incorporate the changes called for when the board conditionally approved the proposal back in February. The city did make some revisions to the plan, called the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway Project, but did not adopt any of the requests, despite strong support for them from the community board.

“We went to bat for Concord Village residents,” said Robert Perris, the panel’s district manager. “But we were unsuccessful in getting the changes the people there thought were most important.”

The project will totally redo the pedestrian and bike path leading off the bridge, widening it and replacing the so-called “cattle chute” of cement-and-metal barriers with trees and plants. It also calls for eliminating one of two rows of parked cars on a service road on the Manhattan-bound side of Adams and moving the bridge traffic one lane closer to Concord Village, which some residents say will increase the car noise to unbearable levels.

“It’s so loud already,” said Kamila Kiszko, whose apartment faces Adams Street.

The noise and soot produced by the constant traffic is currently so bad that Kiszko sleeps with a white-noise machine and almost never opens her windows, she said.

“It’s only going to get worse,” she said.

Residents of the apartment complex had asked the bean counters at the transportation department to add a waist-high cement barrier to separate the service road from the bridge entrance. The city’s latest mock-ups omit the barrier, but do replace a seven-inch curb on the block with a two-foot-wide, one-foot-tall planter.

In his letter to the community board, borough roads commissioner Joseph Palmieri said the change was a big step but that anything more would make the bridge approach feel like a Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on-ramp again.

“We have made a significant design change,” he wrote, describing the new solution as a way to create “a more substantial buffer between the service road and the main line without creating a highway-like environment.”

The expansion of the median would mean losing a bike lane on the service road, which the community board was not happy about.

In a response to the city’s decision, Shirley McRae, the board’s chairwoman, wrote that she would rather see the original curb than the city’s latest scheme.

“I do not believe this modification to the median will provide the protection desired by the community,” she wrote. “Furthermore, the modest change in design comes at the expense of the bike lane.”

The board also called on the city to conduct tests to measure the impact of the lane change and the construction noise, but the roads czar said he does not have to, so he won’t.

“The project was found in 2010 to fall into a category of projects exempted from detailed environment review,” Palmieri wrote in the letter.

Some Concord Villagers said they like the project overall, but bristled at the brush-off.

“They’re basically saying, ‘We know better than the community,’ ” said David Cerron, another resident of the complex. “No one’s saying the project shouldn’t go forward. We just want it done responsibly.”

The only recommendation not altered significantly or outright rejected by the city was participation in the Percent for Art Program, which would use one percent of the project’s budget on public artwork.

The first phase of the Gateway project will cost the city an estimated $19.5 million, and is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reader Feedback

Mike from Williamsburg says:
"“They’re basically saying, ‘We know better than the community,’ ” said David Cerron, another resident of the complex. "

Is it so hard to believe that they do know better than the community? Or at least that the DOT can do a better job of balancing city and borough-wide interests against the interests of the people of the community?
April 7, 2014, 7:17 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Time to soundproof your building. Oh, and might as well cover it in photovoltaic cladding while you're at it. So we can have solar energy, and more bike lanes, and not have to swim to work. See where we're going with this, folks?
April 7, 2014, 8:32 am
Brian Van from Gramercy says:
Mike from Williamsburg hit the nail on the head. This is a major gateway between boroughs and has always been a noisy, obnoxious area. These changes make that gateway safer, while the people who willingly chose to live in these buildings didn't get the noise remediation they requested... it's unfortunate, but I bet the reasoning is that the residents asked for a heavy, permanent sound barrier installation while the DOT is, for now, installing planters and low-rise curbs that are much easier to modify as they monitor changes over the next 5-10 years. If the DOT needs to make further adjustments, it will not be incredibly costly. And the residents additional concerns about noise - not only is it unlikely that the shift in traffic patterns would really add to their woes, but they have a responsibility to make their own soundproofing or accept the tradeoff they got when they moved into a very accessible and affordable community that is not considered prime real estate exactly for the causes that they are now bemoaning. Just like you can't move right next to a very big river at sea level and then complain when it floods...
April 7, 2014, 9:37 am
Historian from Brooklyn says:
Question: when was the Brooklyn Bridge built? Was it built before or after the people in Concord Village purchased their apartments?
April 7, 2014, 9:40 am
Fred from The Heights says:
To be fair, many of the residents objecting to the changes have lived there since before the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed, so they didn't see this coming. Their bucolic, pastoral Concord Village is now going to be turned, overnight, into a noisy, sooty highway shoulder.
April 7, 2014, 10:19 am
Hilda from Ft. Greene says:
This article would do well to have a small drawing showing the existing compared to the proposed. The proposed plan brings one lane of car traffic about 8 feet closer within the roadway, but there is vehicular lanes coming closer to the property. In fact the planting of trees, planters and a physical separator is enhancing the environmental benefits of the new plan. In addition, the lane widths will be reduced, with the intention of calming traffic; a huge boon for environmental, safety and aesthetic concerns.
A larger concrete barrier, as was requested, will only allow more noise to bounce off the barrier, creating greater noise impact that anything that DOT has suggested. This is the nature of this barrier shape and concrete material.
One thing not mentioned in the complaints is the removal of parking on the service road, to make way for the noise, safety, and environmental improvements within the redesign.
April 7, 2014, 10:49 am
Hilda from Ft. Greene says:
*there are no vehicular lanes moving closer to the property*
April 7, 2014, 10:51 am
PJL from 11201 says:
Lanes of traffic entering the Brooklyn Bridge are being moved approximately 8-10 feet (or 20-25%) closer to the Concord Village Buildings... significantly different than when people bought their apartments....

As to the DOT knowing best, DOT claims that environmental review, testing, etc. is not required, so how can anyone (including DOT) objectively know for sure??
April 7, 2014, 12:15 pm
Concord Village resident from 11201 says:
Hilda from Ft. Greene said the width of lanes will be narrowed.

To my knowledge, the minimum width of street and road lanes is determined by law. What is being narrowed here is the overall width of the service road by eliminating one parking lane. I'm not an acoustical engineer, therefore can't say whether this will raise the noise level. The BB Gateway construction noise will certainly be hell as much, most or maybe all, of the work will have to be done during the night.

I can only say that for decades all Concord Village residents, whose apartments face Adams Street, have contended with noise from permanent traffic, which can't be ameliorated (BTW, Adams Street traffic markedly increased after the Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll collection system was changed, thanks to then-Senator Al D'Amato who introduced the enabling legislation in Washington.

Particularly those along the northern end of the service road have also had to deal with so-called
temporary noise from nightly construction on over- und underpasses of the Brooklyn Bridge and the BQE, and particularly the incessant beeping of huge pieces of equipment being moved into position after 11 p.m. and returning to the yards after 4 a.m. This has been going on for years and will continue for years to come. However, no CV resident has had to suffer from this infernal noise for years like the residents of the northernmost Cadman tower, on Front Street and of Fulton Ferry Landing.

BTW, a two-way bike lane is planned for Tillary Street.
April 7, 2014, 1:35 pm
Dee from Gowanus says:
DOT can't claim both enviromental improvements AND no environmental impact. How can that possibly be?
April 7, 2014, 2:56 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As usual, those on the low end of the ladder get the royal screw job as if their say doesn't even matter.
April 7, 2014, 4 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Did someone just say something (↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑)?
April 7, 2014, 5:27 pm
Brooklyn real from far far away says:
I have to laugh that people really beleive that the DOT or any other city agency gives a S...T about what people of the community think . Leave your windowless apartments and drive on the roads , so many things in the city are falling apart. The only way things are moving foward is from private builders and that is to make big money profits and no other reason ... no body you get older and have been around a while you will get it .
April 7, 2014, 6:12 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
Again, NYC DOT opts for what looks good on paper and will help the flow of the through-traffic at the expense of the locals. If the locals object condemn them to hell for noticing the flaw.

Perhaps, since they live at the site, they will BLOCK TRAFFIC before breakfast! That just might get attention. Civil disobedience is in again, I hear.
April 7, 2014, 6:59 pm
Ken from Williamsburg says:
How can Fred say that the residents lived there before the Brooklyn Bridge was built?
The bridge is over 100 years old.
April 7, 2014, 10:25 pm
Jonathan from downtown bk says:
funny how the DOT is so against doing any environmental testing. they are probably afraid of the results and how that will force them to alter their design. the wording of the law regarding environmental testing is very vague. the DOT has used only the language that suits their purpose. It could go either way if CV takes legal action to clarify.
April 7, 2014, 10:26 pm
Thomas Lawrence from Brooklyn Heights says:
I assume Historian is being facetious? Fred from the Heights says "To be fair, many of the residents objecting to the changes have lived there since before the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed, so they didn't see this coming." If they lived there before the bridge was constructed, it'd have been 1876 when construction began, and 1883 when it was completed. I believe Concord Village was constructed in the 1940s or 50s?
April 8, 2014, 6:44 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I dare anyone who claims it won't be a big deal to the Concord Village residents to spend some time there. Perhaps then you will understand why they are against it. For the most part, those that have the connections always get what they want, while those that don't are always given the royal screw job, which is why I support Occupy Wall Street and the 99%.
April 8, 2014, 3:44 pm
Joseph from Bay Ridge says:
And what of the thousands upon thousands of Brooklyn Bridge users that will benefit from a safer corridor?

"Screw their livelihood, I come first.

Me, me! Even if the changes are insignificant to my life. Screw safety!"

It's a busy, loud area. It will remain busy, and loud. Who the hell moves into a corridor like that and expects things to remain the same. I'm glad the DOT is pushing forward for the good of the city. If they don't like it, let them move.
April 10, 2014, 11:39 pm

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