Downtown street closures explained at cop meeting

With construction of the Barclays Center arena underway, developer Forest City Ratner and the city continued their outreach to the community regarding parking and traffic changes.

Both were explained at the 78th Precinct Community Council’s Jan. 26 meeting.

On hand to discuss the changes were consultant Sam Schwartz, who owns an eponymous traffic engineering firm, Chris Hrones,the city Department of Transportation’s Downtown Brooklyn Transportation Coordinator, and Jane Marshall, a senior vice president with Forest City Ratner Companies.

Hrones said the city’s goal is to minimize whatever impact the changes would have on local roads. He said the city plans to monitor the situation, and would make changes accordingly.

He said that a good deal of analysis has already been conducted, but that “common sense” would direct any future mitigations. “If adjustments need to be made, we won’t hesitate to make them.”

Effective Feb. 1, sections of both Fifth Avenue and Pacific Street will be permanently closed.

This includes Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues; and Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues.

Local and emergency vehicle access will be maintained as needed.

Upon closure, northbound traffic on Fifth Avenue can use Flatbush Avenue or Sixth Avenue to continue north; southbound traffic can use Sixth Avenue.

Eastbound traffic on Pacific Street can use Dean Street and westbound traffic can use Bergen Street.

To facilitate vehicle circulation, Sixth Avenue (between Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street) and the block of Carlton Avenue (between Dean and Pacific Streets) will become two-way.

These changes necessitate the removal of the Cobble Hill-bound B63 bus stop on Fifth Avenue, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue. Passengers can use existing bus stops on Fifth Avenue (at Bergen Street) and on Atlantic Avenue (at Fourth Avenue).

Advisory signs will be posted in advance of the closures and detour signs will be posted during the work. Traffic agents will be assigned to facilitate the flow of traffic and pedestrians.

To accommodate for the two-way Sixth Avenue, parking at the precinct, located at 65 Sixth Avenue, would move from the street to a temporary location within the project’s footprint. A permanent24-spot lot is expected as the project is developed, Marshall said, likely east of Sixth between Dean and Pacific streets.

Additionally, the Carlton Avenue Bridge will remain closed until April 2012.

Residents will still have access to the streets — “until whatever process happens at a later date,” Schwartz noted.

Schwartz said traffic agents and signs will help inform locals and drivers about the changes. And if the project does not proceed, the streets would remain as is, Marshall said, adding, “I doubt that’s going to happen.”

But Pauline Blake, the president of the precinct community council, said it would be helpful if the agents actually helped to direct traffic, instead of “standing on the sidelines, watching traffic as it gridlocks.”

Schwartz said the changes would be evaluated like a “Broadway show,” where reviews after an opening can often help tweak a performance. “It’s always tough to open in this town,” he said.

–Gary Buiso contributed to this story