SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK
COALITION TO REVITALIZE THE WATERFRONT NOW,
JOHN MCGETTRICK, et al. .
Petitioners-Plaintiffs, Index No.
For a judgment pursuant to Article 78 of the
Civil Practice Law and Rules
AFFIDAVIT OF BRIAN KETCHAM IN SUPPORT OF THE VERIFIED PETITION
NEW YORK CITY PLANNING COMMISSION,
AMANDA M. BURDEN as Chairman of the
New York City Planning Commission, NEW YORK
CITY DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING, NEW YORK
CITY COUNCIL, IKEA Property, Inc., and US Dredging
STATE OF NEW YORK )
COUNTY OF KINGS )
BRIAN KETCHAM, being duly sworn, says:
1. I am a transportation and environmental engineer. I am also the executive director of Community Consulting Services (CCS), a not-for-profit organization providing pro bono engineering services to low income communities. During my more than 30-year career, I have performed dozens of complex traffic and air quality studies, managed transportation and environmental assessments of large-scale projects (highways, shopping centers, residential developments, hospitals) and prepared extensive maintenance and protection of traffic and truck route plans, primarily for New York City and State agencies. I am fully familiar with the methodology for preparing of traffic analyses for environmental impact statements as such analyses are performed in New York City. A copy of my resume is attached to this affidavit. Examples of CCS’s work can be seen at www.communityconsulting.org.
2. I submit this affidavit in support of the Verified Petition that seeks to invalidate approvals for land use changes granted by the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) and the New York City Council. These approvals enable the construction of a 416,000 square foot retail shopping mall on the waterfront in Erie Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn ("the project"). This affidavit is based on my personal knowledge and expertise and my review of the documents referenced and discussed herein.
3. I have reviewed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) prepared by AKRF, Inc., Wachtel & Masyr, LLP, Sam Schwartz Company and Vollmuth & Brush for IKEA Property, Inc., dated August 27, 2004, and in particular Chapter 16, "Traffic and Parking." In my opinion, that Chapter’s conclusions as to the extent of significant adverse impacts from the project on traffic in Red Hook and greater Brooklyn are seriously understated. The FEIS failed to adequately document existing traffic conditions on roads that will receive the project’s traffic; it failed to properly estimate traffic conditions in future years; and it underestimated the full traffic impact of the IKEA store. As a consequence, its proposed mitigation is almost certainly inadequate to fully mitigate project impacts.
4. The standard framework for determining whether a new project’s traffic will have significant adverse impacts is to first determine what the existing volumes of traffic are on the roadways that the project traffic will use. After the existing condition is determined, the analysis projects the future traffic condition in the year in which the project will be built (the future no-build condition). It does this by increasing the traffic volumes in the existing condition to account for a certain rate of background growth in traffic, and then adding traffic from new developments that will be built in the area in that time frame. Once the future no-build traffic condition is established, the analysis then calculates the project’s expected contribution to traffic and adds it to the future no-build. If the project’s contribution causes traffic to exceed certain thresholds, there is a significant adverse impact.
5. In its traffic analysis, the FEIS completely omitted any discussion of traffic conditions on the Brooklyn-Queens or Gowanus Expressways, either before or after the project is built. This is a critical omission because these are the major arteries by which most of IKEA’s customers are expected to travel to the store. A discussion of traffic on these arteries is important for at least two reasons: (1) because worsening traffic on the expressways should itself have been considered as a potential significant impact; and (2) because the level of traffic congestion on the highways will be an important factor influencing where drivers to IKEA will exit the highway and continue their journey to the store on local streets, and whether the additional congestion will induce some local drivers not heading to IKEA to exit early and add to volumes on local streets.
6. According to the FEIS, the project will add 11,200 cars to the area’s roads on a typical Saturday, and approximately 6,000 on a weekday. The FEIS assumed that virtually all of these cars will use the expressways to reach IKEA. It further assumed that most of the drivers would stay on the expressway until the Hamilton Avenue exit, with the following exceptions. On weekends, it was assumed that 50 percent of the traffic heading to IKEA traveling eastbound would use the 38th Street exit. On weekdays, it assumed that 25 percent of the traffic traveling eastbound would exit at 38th Street and 25 percent of the traffic traveling westbound would exit at Cadman Plaza and Atlantic Avenue. FEIS, p. 16-31.
7. The failure to account for existing conditions on any highway leading to Red Hook on which 86% of IKEA trips are assigned ignores the reality that even on a Saturday, much of the expressway system is at capacity, will only get worse during the long reconstruction of the Gowanus Expressway, and that the approach to the Hamilton Avenue exit to the IKEA site is typically at a standstill. Thus, if almost 11,200 IKEA drivers do actually use the expressways, they will push more savvy local drivers (not heading to IKEA) onto local streets—an effect of which the FEIS makes no mention.
8. Such additional traffic on local streets raises the substantial possibility of additional significant adverse impacts. Further, there would undoubtedly be such impacts on the highways themselves.
9. The FEIS also failed to account for several projects in the future no build condition that will worsen traffic. The Hamilton Avenue solid waste transfer station just west of the Hamilton Avenue Bridge is scheduled to be reconstructed and operational in 2007, the same year as the project. The transfer station will be parking dozens of heavy trucks along the south side of Hamilton Avenue waiting to enter, removing a lane of traffic from Hamilton Avenue. In addition, the Brooklyn-Queens and Gowanus Expressways will be undergoing major rehabilitations over the next decade, removing operating lanes and further congesting traffic access/egress routes that IKEA is depending on for its Red Hook facility.
10. The FEIS failed to account for other traffic changes as well. Recently introduced traffic signal changes along Hamilton Avenue have had a major effect on traffic operation have not been considered. Following a recent tragic pedestrian accident, the New York City Department of Transportation introduced leading pedestrian phasing in which signal green time is taken from traffic and provided for safe pedestrian movement, reducing the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles that led to the traffic deaths of two young children. The consequence for traffic, however, is to reduce intersection capacity and slow traffic movement. Failure to account for this change results in an underreporting of the project’s impact along Hamilton Avenue and on other nearby roads.
11. Failure to fully account for these developments in the future no-build condition permits the FEIS to underreport project impacts. With a low-balled no-build condition, nearby roads will appear to be operating at service levels far better (i.e., freer flowing) than would otherwise be the case. With better roadway operation, the project can claim a greater share of available capacity before it would appear to have an impact, resulting in an under-identification of significant impacts and insufficient mitigation.
12. In addition to under-representing the amount of traffic that will be present in the future no-build condition, the FEIS may well also underestimate the amount of traffic that will be generated by the project. If that traffic is underestimated, then obviously the potential significant adverse impacts from it are underestimated as well.
13. According to the FEIS, "the trip generation rates of the anticipated IKEA store were estimated based on vehicle and pedestrian counts collected at the 352,000 square foot IKEA store in Elizabeth, New Jersey during December of 2002 and January of 2003 and video-recorded visitor counts at this location performed by IKEA between October 15, 1999 and February 22, 2003 (1,236 days)." FEIS, p. 16-23. Visitor counts involve counting persons who enter the store; they do not indicate how many vehicles were used to transport the persons to the site. This data was then "applied" in an unspecified manner to the Red Hook IKEA to calculate the number of trips that would be generated by the Red Hook store.
14. The FEIS does not provide the data to back up these assertions anywhere in the document. It does not, in fact, report any IKEA-generated total daily trip volumes, i.e. the person counts taken by IKEA at their entrance adjusted for estimated vehicular counts. It is only by reviewing a November 11, 2003 memo provided to the New York City Department of City Planning by the Sam Schwartz Company that I became aware how the trip generation rates for this project were derived. The Sam Schwartz Company reviewed three years of IKEA person trip data and they used the median of all that data to estimate their trip rates. The "median" of all the data analyzed means that 50% of daily or hourly trips are below the number used and 50% are above that number. This means that, according to their own data, half the days of the year the Red Hook IKEA will generate more trips than analyzed in the FEIS. See Exhibit , Memorandum, Sam Schwartz to Mehdi Amjadi, November 11, 2003.
15. In sum, correcting for IKEA’s underestimation of trips to and from the store and the failure of the FEIS to report fully on background and no-build traffic, and on impacts on the Brooklyn-Queens and Gowanus Expressways, would produce far greater project impacts spread over a far larger area than has been reported in the FEIS. With far more severe impacts at locations such as on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to be mitigated, it is not unreasonable to assume that the FEIS did not disclose all the significant impacts that will be produced by the project, and did not provide mitigation for all impacts to the maximum extent possible.
Sworn to before me this day of February