City, State Officials Talk Up Infrastructure Plans
New York City's infrastructure got a lot of attention in the last month on both the local and state fronts, starting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) state-of-the-state address. Cuomo's $132.5-billion budget plan calls for the state to invest $1.3 billion to spur $25 billion in investments from other sources for major infrastructure projects and job growth. He also mentioned creating a fund to support projects that would improve or replace more than 100 bridges, including the Tappan Zee.
In his state-of-the-city speech, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) mentioned a slew of construction projects planned or under way throughout the five boroughs. He also said that the city would partner with industry to strengthen safety and reduce wait times for building inspections.
Patrick J. Foye, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director, told members of the New York Building Congress last month that the agency is focusing on its core mission of transportation infrastructure and economic development. This includes repairs to the Goethals Bridge and a $1-billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge roadway to 215 ft from 151 ft. Foye says the authority will also look into diversifying the work forces of the ports on both sides of the Hudson River.
The American Automobile Association sued PANYNJ in December, charging that the agency should not use revenue from toll hikes to pay for non-transport infrastructure projects, including World Trade Center work.
"We're encouraged that the Port Authority's new executive director wants to return the agency to its core mission of providing transportation infrastructure," says Robert Sinclair, an AAA spokesperson, in response to Foye's speech. "But we lament that the authority has spent billions of dollars on speculative real estate development at the World Trade Center. ... How much could have been done to repair, or better yet, replace the aged, outdated bridges in the Port Authority's inventory with the money spent on a speculative real estate venture.
Meanwhile, the WTC site has had some recent setbacks, including financial issues for DCM Erectors, New York, the steel contractor for 1 WTC, and a work slowdown at the 9/11 museum.
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Cornell Details Plans for New Tech Campus
New York City recently released details of its financial pre-development arrangement with Cornell University that allows the university to jump-start its $2-billion-plus applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. Cornell has already paid a $5-million, pre-development deposit and a $5-million security deposit under the deal.
The university must also submit a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application by Nov. 10 or pay a penalty of $1,000 a day for the first two months, increasing by an additional $1,000 a day every two months after that. It is also required to deliver an update on Phase 1 development schematics, including site and floor plans as well as a schematic cost estimate to the Economic Development Corp. by early 2016. If Cornell fails to deliver the requested information on time, it must pay $1 million dollars.
The first phase of the tech campus will include the build-out of 200,000 sq ft and is scheduled for completion by June 2017. The second phase is scheduled to begin in June 2024 and will include the build-out of 1 million sq ft that is scheduled for completion by June 2027. The final phase of the campus is scheduled to begin in June 2034 and includes the build-out of about 2 million sq ft., which is scheduled to be completed by June 2037.
Meanwhile, New York University plans to add 3.1 acres of publicly accessible open space in Greenwich Village, under the university's NYU Core strategy, part of its 20-year, citywide plan for growth dubbed NYU 2031: NYU in NYC. The university's plans also include the addition of 40,000 sq ft of public parkland, totaling more than four acres, to be used by the university community and the neighborhood.
NYC Construction-Related Accidents Down, Permits Up
New York City construction accidents dropped 18% last year to 128 and injuries fell 7.8% to 152, continuing a three-year downward trend in both categories, according to data from the NYC Dept. of Buildings. However, there were five construction-related fatalities in 2011, up one from the prior year.
The most common construction accident is workers falling, but the five fatalities last year were the result of improper procedures on the job, such as a lack of fall-protection and improper construction practices, DOB says.
Meanwhile, the issuance of construction permits grew 7.7% to 86,895 last year, the third consecutive year in which permit issuance has increased. Demolition work and new buildings accounted for the majority of permits. The agency cites increased enforcement and expanded outreach to the industry for the positive results.