Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pollution predominates—not surprisingly—in heavily trafficked areas, yet another legacy of Robert Moses. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the “New York City Community Air Survey.” Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city’s air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we’re bringing this up now.

Earlier this week, the Atlantic Yards Report reported that street closures are imminent around the Atlantic Yards site, which would presumably exacerbate traffic in the area. This has long been a concern surrounding the project, back when the EIS was just an EIS and not the basis for a Supreme Court lawsuit. But as the map and GIF above illustrate, congestion—both vehicular and nasal—were a problem at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues long before Bruce Ratner, and probably even Robert Moses, showed up. Now, as more streets are closed and the traffic only gets worse, the pollution is likely to follow. Just imagine how bad it will be on game nights?

A map of the proposed street closures (via Brownstoner)

Holiday traffic near the Atlantic Yards site. This was prior to street closings coming in February. (Courtesy Atlantic Yards Report)

4 Responses to “Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution”

  1. Daniel Goldstein says:

    So while Mayor Bloomberg fights the killer known as salt, he advocates for more pollution in Brooklyn. If the salt won’t get you sick, the exhaust will.

  2. Human Scale says:

    Only the MTA can save us now! Time to step up those LIRR track improvements.

  3. J says:

    Why are you coming to the conclusion that the closure of streets will create more traffic? It is in direct contradiction with your claim (which appears to be true, based on the air quality study) that the areas with the highest concentration of roads are the same areas with the highest concentration of cars, and consequently, pollution. You cannot judge how much traffic will ultimately pass through an area by a visual observation of an interim condition.

  4. Alan Rosner says:

    The reason, J, is that the closed streets around this intersection are essentially smaller local roads. These were often used to traverse, avoid or ameliorate conditions on the three main intersecting cross Brooklyn traffic arteries, Flatbush, Atlantic and 4th Avenue; the latter not mentioned in the article even though it dead ends half a block North of the intersection.

    That mean more cars forced into this already overburdened crossroads thanks to developer Ratner’s pact with those rascally little devils, Pataki, Bloomberg, Spitzer, Schumer, and the unmoved Paterson.

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