NYC seeks design-build authorization for major infrastructure projects

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Kevin P. Coughlin/office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

New York City officials have ramped up a campaign for the state legislature to grant the city design-build authority for eight major infrastructure projects by staging a media event at the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE).

The city has dedicated $1.9 billion in capital funding over the next five years to completely rehabilitate the aging 60-year-old roadway. Officials stressed the need for Albany passage of design-build authority to fund and complete the infrastructure work there — and for seven other major projects.

“Throughout New York City, we have serious capital needs that cannot wait for an emergent crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement at the June 2 event. “It is critical we attend to these needs right away and in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. Design-build authority would save us time and money, which means our roadways would open sooner, emergency room wait times would decrease and the NYPD could begin training at their new facility. Design-build has been invaluable for the State, it can and should be for the city too.”

“As a road central to the regional economy, the BQE must be fixed safely and efficiently, and Design Build could save us as much as $300 million and two-years’ construction time on this single project,” said NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“The history of design-build in New York State shows that important city projects could benefit greatly if we were allowed to use this more efficient method for project delivery,” said Department of Design and Construction commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Police precincts, highways and public hospitals could be built with shorter construction times at lower cost if the City had the Design-Build process that agencies such as the State DOT and State Thruway Authority have already employed on projects such as the new Tappan Zee Bridge. I am grateful to the legislators who are working to get this passed in Albany, and to the Mayor for sending a strong message of support.”

Design-build streamlines the construction process by merging design and construction phases, saving both time and money, the city says.

The rehabilitation of the 1.5-mile portion of the BQE between Atlantic Ave. and Sands St. is the largest among major infrastructure projects planned by New York City. Known for its distinctive triple-cantilever tiered structure (topped by the Brooklyn Heights promenade), the section of roadway is actually a succession of 21 different bridges.

Constructed in the 1940s, the Atlantic-to-Sands section of roadway has never been rehabilitated despite growing increasingly congested in the years since: in the 1970s, 100,000 vehicles traveled it daily, with the number now exceeding 140,000 vehicles on an average weekday. Trucks are a large share of that traffic, 17 percent during rush hours, as the road serves not only as a major access point to East River bridges to Manhattan but also as a major means of moving freight within the five boroughs (90 percent of truck traffic has a NYC destination). With no breakdown or acceleration lanes, this narrow and congested section of the BQE suffers a disproportionate number of collisions and traffic delays.

In 2016, New York City DOT completed an in-depth inspection of the BQE Atlantic-to-Sands structure, the first since its original construction. That inspection found that while the highway was structurally sound and safe, a full-scale rehabilitation was necessary in the next decade. During 2016, DOT also substantially repaved the roadway on much of the structure, which has helped alleviate some of the breakdowns and traffic issues.

State legislation under consideration in Albany, A8134/S6427, sponsored by Assembly member Michael Benedetto and Senators Andrew Lanza and Martin Golden, would grant New York City authority to use design-build for eight designated major projects with a combined proposed budget of $2.5 billion. Those projects are:

1) BQE – Atlantic to Sands, Brooklyn (Department of Transportation)
Budgeted cost: $1.89 billion ($1.72 billion for DOT; $170 million for Parks)

In addition to addressing the structural conditions on one of the most heavily traveled roads in New York City, the project will result in other significant enhancement by: 1) increasing vertical clearance along the Queens-bound BQE; 2) widening lanes and where feasible, adding standard shoulders to address high-crash rates and to bring the roadway up to national interstate standards; 3) making pedestrian improvements and increasing access to Brooklyn Bridge Park, especially at the Atlantic Avenue interchange; 4) improving drainage and lighting throughout the corridor.

2) Rodman’s Neck Training Facility, Bronx (Department of Design and Construction on behalf of NYPD)
Budgeted cost: $275 million

This project consists of the renovation of NYPD’s Rodman’s Neck Firearms Training Facility. The 48.7-acre site contains six open firing ranges and 21 wood frame and modular buildings.

The project consists of administrative spaces, armory, climate-controlled ammunition storage, a tactical village for enhanced training and additional shooting points to increase number of officers who can be trained simultaneously. The new facility will offer enhanced capabilities for movable targets and tactical training environments.

3) Crossroads Youth Facility, Brooklyn (DDC on behalf of Administration for Children’s Services)
Budgeted cost: $129 million

The city is undertaking a major renovation and upgrade of its Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brooklyn. The project’s design and construction will be managed by DDC.

4) Horizons Adolescent Facility, Bronx (DDC on behalf of Administration for Children’s Services)
Budgeted cost: $170 million

DOC plans to rebuild the Horizon Detention Center in the Bronx. The project’s design and construction will be managed by DDC.

5) New NYPD Precinct – SE Queens (DDC on behalf of NYPD)
Budgeted cost: $70 million

This project would create a new NYPD Precinct, the 116th in Southeast Queens, created out of the southern portions of the existing 105th precinct. The new precinct would serve the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, Brookville and Springfield Gardens.

The new 116th Precinct will address an increase in this area’s population and requests for law enforcement services, and help reduce response times. Compared to the other 76 precincts Citywide, the current 105th Precinct has the 5th-largest precinct population (118,577 residents) and the 5th largest square mileage (12.43 square miles).

6) Staten Island Ferry Resiliency (DOT)
Budgeted cost: $25 million

Almost 23 million passengers ride the Staten Island Ferry each year. In 2012, as a result of Superstorm Sandy, ferry passenger terminals in both Staten Island and Manhattan, along with the Ferry Maintenance Facility on Staten Island, were subject to heavy flooding and major mechanical/electrical system damage.

This major resiliency project includes the assessment, design and construction of systems necessary to ensure that this vital transit system is well-prepared and sufficiently resilient to withstand major flooding and increased incidents of severe weather in the future.

7) Pelham Parkway Bridge over Hutchinson River Parkway, Bronx (DOT)
Budgeted cost: $54.5 million

Pelham Parkway crosses the Hutchinson River Parkway just east of Stillwell Ave. A stone-arch bridge built in 1942, it consists of two spans with a total deck area of about 17,600 feet. The structure carries a total of six lanes of traffic, with sidewalks on both sides, for a total bridge width of 146.8 feet.

The project will bring the bridge into a state of good repair.

8) Elmhurst Hospital Emergency Room Renovation, Queens (Health + Hospitals)
Budgeted cost: $20 million

Located at 79-01 Broadway, the project consists of renovating and expanding the Emergency Department at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, one of New York City’s busiest Trauma Centers with approximately 1200 trauma admissions per year.

The project addresses the demand for additional space to accommodate the hospital’s increased volume. Plans include more than 10,000 additional sq. ft. of new space, an increase in treatment bays (48 to 80), an increase in nursing support areas, five additional isolation rooms, and centralized radiology services.

The design-build legislation would give the same benefit and cost savings to city agencies that New York State has realized on its projects, including eight projects that were authorized in the most recent state budget. Design-build contracts would be subject to applicable federal, state, and local requirements for disadvantaged business enterprises and minority and women-owned business enterprises.

Mayor De Blasio recently announced the following MWBE commitments: Setting a citywide goal of 30 percent; the creation of the Mayor’s Office of MWBE and interest rate contract financing in the state of 3 percent up to $500,000 per loan.

The use of design-build as a project delivery method will allow the city to complete more projects, increasing opportunities for MWBE firms. The city proposal includes Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for all projects utilizing design-build. Projects that utilize design-build typically realize cost savings of at least 6 percent and an average time savings of 18 months, the city asserts in a news release.



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