New York State has passed legislation to allow design-build project delivery for certain infrastructure projects. Industry groups, including the Design-Build Institute of America, praised the measure. Under the law, several state agencies—the N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation; Dept. of Transportation; Thruway Authority; Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Bridge Authority—are now authorized to use design-build.
The law, which creates the New York Works Infrastructure Fund, is part of a broader economic package aimed at job creation and tax reduction for the middle class. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) unveiled the program Dec. 6.
The law is set to sunset three years after the date of enactment. That is because the state “wants to see how this works” before making a further commitment, says Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State, who supports the law. “The flexibility that this is going to give a handful of state agencies to deliver projects more quickly, more efficiently and, in many cases, less expensively, is a very significant step forward,” Elmendorf says. He says that the Tappan Zee Bridge project will be done as design-build and that RFQs are already out. “They already started doing that in anticipation of this [law] happening,” he adds.
Under the infrastructure fund program, $700 million in state capital investments would be earmarked to accelerate capital projects planned wherever possible, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would provide an additional $300 million for New York City infrastructure project funding. Separately, a new public-private infrastructure fund of up to $1 billion would be established from pension funds and private investments. Potentially funded projects include: replacing deficient state and local bridges; rehabilitating dams and flood-control infrastructure; renovating parks; rebuilding water systems; conducting energy retrofits on homes, farms, businesses and schools; and accelerating major SUNY and CUNY projects, the state says.
Richard Thomas, DBIA vice president of advocacy, calls the legislation a major victory as New York currently allows design-build only for dormitory construction and, more recently, for emergency infrastructure repairs after Hurricane Irene. He notes that earlier this year Ohio also expanded its use of design-build for certain transportation sector work. “[New York] and Ohio are probably the two biggest victories for design-build in the last decade,” Thomas says.