The MTA’s big bollards are an affront to Brooklyn

New LIRR terminal is a monument to fear and paranoia
The Brooklyn Paper / Barry Shifrin

We were pleased that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spent $106 million on an attractive new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

But the end result of the project was a slap in the face to all New Yorkers.

There is no question that John di Domenico’s architecture at the new Atlantic Terminal is soaring. The problem with the rail station is the 14, massive granite, tomb-like boxes that ring the Flatbush Avenue entrance — a security perimeter that took a building meant to symbolize the freedom of rail travel and turned it into a fortress.

Make no mistake: We are well aware that the former structure on the site was once seen as a target for suicide bombers, and the new building may attract such extremists again. And, as New Yorkers, we want our public agencies to protect important buildings in a responsible and thoughtful manner.

But the MTA did a bollard bait-and-switch: Renderings from as recently as 2007 showed a line of fewer — and significantly smaller — bollards that would have unobtrusively protected the front of the station.

Those renderings bear as close a resemblance to reality as “Inglourious Basterds” does to a World War II documentary.

Instead, the MTA went for overkill. As The Brooklyn Paper reports on its print edition front page today, the MTA bollards are far taller and far closer together than even the NYPD recommends for the highest-risk targets in the city.

That’s bad enough, but the final fortress-like design was conceived without any input from the terminal’s ultimate users, the public. If public agencies can show one set of renderings, then build something completely at odds with the spirit of those renderings, it makes a mockery of urban planning and architecture.

Worse, the same pattern is playing out at the state’s Barclays Center across the street. In this case, the architecture firm SHoP has presented dramatic designs for the basketball arena — renderings that show a line of thin, architecturally reasonable bollards.

But will those renderings be tossed away in a closed-door meeting, just as the original Atlantic Terminal renderings were? We’ve asked the Empire State Development Corporation repeatedly, but the agency won’t answer.

As a result, we’ll likely get stuck with another Flatbush fortress — one that gets sprung on us at the last minute without any prior discussion with, or concern for, the public.

That’s unacceptable.

These bollards are tiny compared to the mammoth ones at the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal — but they’re strong enough to stop a 15,000-pound truck at 50 miles per hour, the highest NYPD standard.