Pols say ‘All aboard’ at new LIRR gateway

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The Long Island Rail Road restored a bit of grandeur to train travel on Tuesday, as pols and other officials cut the ribbon on a new $108-million terminal near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

The facility atop the busiest transit hub in the borough replaces a dour subterranean mess that has existed since the original Atlantic Terminal was torn down in the 1980s. Construction began in 2002 and came at an estimated $26 million above the original budget, the New York Times reported.

But Tuesday was a day for congratulations. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder hailed the facility as nothing less than a Grand Central Station for Brooklyn, though the building is far smaller than its Manhattan counterpart, and only services a branch line of the Long Island Rail Road rather than the full Metro-North commuter railway.

“This is a place where you would want to take a train to or from,” Walder said. “It is a spectacular new addition to Brooklyn.”

The glass walls and roof of the new center bathe commuters in sunlight. Grand staircases bring riders down from street level, where a craggy overlook designed by artists Ellen and Allen Wexler offers a nifty vantage point down on the harried workers. There’s a new ticket window, an area for maps and schedules, and even inviting rest rooms.

Borough President Markowitz offered a dose of Brooklyn pride.

“Why would you disembark in cold, soul-less, windowless Penn Station when you could come to this beautiful atrium, where the rays of the sun come all the way deep underground?” he mused. “I say, ‘All aboard!”

Markowitz pointed out that the terminal — which connects the LIRR to 10 subway lines — may itself become a hub of economic development. It will serve as the destination of future fans of the Brooklyn Nets, who hope to one day be ensconced in the Bruce Ratner–built Barclays Center across the street, and it may entice Long Islanders to make day trips to cultural offerings such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Junior’s restaurant — “all of which are within a few feet of the station,” Markowitz said.

But not everyone was overjoyed with John di Domenico’s lofty design.

Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) criticized the LIRR for ringing the terminal with 14 massive coffin-shaped concrete-and-granite bollards to ward off potential, though unspecified, terror attacks.

“The coffins are ugly,” she said. “This is a facility that is supposed to celebrate openness, yet they put hideous barricades in front of it.”

James said she would meet as soon as possible with LIRR officials to see if the security perimeter can be made more attractive.

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams agreed with James that the bollards are unattractive, but said that they are necessary “in this day and age.”

“We worked with the NYPD and the MTA police, who assess the risks and tell us what kind of security we need,” she said. “Do these bollards lack elegance? Yes. But they are necessary.”

She admitted that the sarcophagi were not part of the original approved design in 2002 and were not part of the design when construction began in earnest in 2005.

Architect di Domenico said his initial idea was to ring the terminal with “a group of low benches,” but added that the security fencing was bulked up several times as construction continued.

“Security concerns kept increasing,” he said.

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Happy from New York says:
"future fans of the Brooklyn Nets, who hope to one day be ensconced in the Bruce Ratner-built Barclays Center"

Future hypothetical fans.
Right now there are no "Brooklyn" Nets.

Present fans would rather the Nets play at the Prudential Center (The Rock) in Newark!
Jan. 6, 2010, 9:13 am
Netrice from Brooklyn says:
Ensconced in the Barclays center? Sounds very luxurious. Don't know why I need to take a train to/from long island in order to do so.

Are there direct connections to the hamptons?

And will there be a fee for Barclays ensconcing, or will there be free ensconcing for all of us?
Jan. 6, 2010, 9:23 am
Norman Oder says:
As for Markowitz's comments, the entrance is in the complete opposite direction of the arena site, which is why Forest City Ratner is supposed to build an entirely new transit entrance well to the southeast, across broad Atlantic Avenue.

It's unlikely that LIRR commuters would be able to zigzag underground and exit at the arena block, as opposed to going in the opposite direction and then walking back at street level. In fact, Markowitz himself criticized the transit plan, stating in his comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement:

"The FEIS should examine the creation of a thru-ticketing arrangement for LIRR riders which enables them to pass through the paid zone for the subway to reach the Urban Room without payment of a subway fare. Otherwise, project generated trips via the LIRR would be required to use the existing entrance to LIRR’s street level concourse on Flatbush Avenue."

The Empire State Development Corporation responded that that wasn't feasible.

More here:
Jan. 6, 2010, 12:24 pm
chuck from bh says:
How can the Brooklyn Paper report quotes like these from officials -- and then NOT question the complete LACK of security bollards which will (not) surround Atlantic Yards?
Jan. 6, 2010, 5:37 pm

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