LICH site construction to turn into ‘logistical nightmare’: Residents

LICH Cobble Hill
Cobble Hill Association president Amy Breedlove (right) and her co-member Amanda Sue Nichols worry that construction traffic will put locals in danger.
Photo by Elissa Esher

Cobble Hill civic gurus say officials at the Department of Transportation are doing a shoddy job providing oversight as three major developments at the former Long Island College Hospital site flood the area with construction vehicles, causing traffic jams and posing a danger to pedestrians. 

“I just see this getting worse and worse, and you have people trying to navigate through all of these huge construction vehicles,” said the president of the Cobble Hill Association Amy Breedlove. “I don’t know what to do to make the DOT have that concern for human life.”

Dumbo-based developer Fortis Property Group is in the process of erecting two 15- and 36-story towers on opposing sides of Hicks Street as part of the five-building project around the former hospital campus which the company has since dubbed River Park.

Meanwhile, New York University plans to build a medical center in front of the taller tower once it acquires the land from Fortis some time in the coming months.

Hick Street is already regularly visited by long lines of cement trucks and 18-wheelers, which struggle to make the tight turn onto Pacific Street to access the work site, according to Breedlove.

“They have to get their trucks in and out, but there has to be a plan where it doesn’t make everything a logistical nightmare,” she said.

Cement trucks already line Hicks Street and locals fear it will only get worse.      Photo courtesy of Amanda Sue Nichols

Contractors have also made it more difficult and dangerous to access the nearby Van Vorhees dog park overlooking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, by blocking the entrance and sidewalk with construction fence for 1 River Park, the shorter of the two towers —leading many locals to jaywalk across the busy one-way street instead. 

A construction worker flags traffic to make sure there’s safe pedestrian crossing, and during non-working hours contractors set up a plastic barrier from Atlantic Avenue towards the dog park, according to a public relations spokeswoman for the River Park development, Anna Crowley.

A dog walker jaywalks to the Van Vorhees dog park.                  Photo by Elissa Esher

Breedlove, however, says she has passed by the site many times after-hours and has never seen the barriers set up.

“I really don’t remember ever seeing them out so that people can walk by them,” she said.

The Transportation agency has signed off on the developer’s traffic management plan, according to spokeswoman Lolita Avila, but Breedlove said that the most recent draft she saw did not have adequate measures for pedestrian protection and managing the flow of trucks.

Avila noted that the agency meets with the Association and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Cobble Hill) on a monthly basis to discuss traffic concerns.

Breedlove said that she had not received the signed-off plan and Avila did not provide a copy by press time.

— Additional reporting by Elissa Esher