News Wrap: 9/11 Museum Work Starts; TZB Plan Okayed; NYC Starts Fall; DDC's BIM Rules; and More!
New York City
Work at the World Trade Center site's 9/11 museum is set to ramp up in the first week of October, says Steve Coleman, a spokesman at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That follows the agreement announced on Sept. 10 between the agency and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum clarifying each party's financial and operational duties.
At issue were claims made late last year that slowed the museum's construction work. PANYNJ had claimed at the time that the foundation owed it $300 million in cost overruns, while the foundation said the agency owed it about $140 million.
Coleman says that work "never stopped" on the structure, although it did slow down. Michael Bloomberg, NYC mayor and chairman of the foundation, told reporters on Dec. 29, 2011, that work there had "basically stopped."
The agreement reached last month includes a provision granting PANYNJ access to all financial information related to the museum and requiring construction to resume at "full pace" unless the museum "fails to pay on a timely basis any amount required to be paid."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also issued a statement on Sept. 10 stating that no additional public funds will be used to complete the memorial and the museum.
The sub-grade museum on the 16-acre WTC site was initially set to open last month. Officials have not yet provided a new target date for completion.
FHWA Clears TZB Environmental Impact Plan
Plans to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge have moved a step forward with the federal government's approval of the final environmental impact statement for the project. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced Sept. 25 that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a record of decision approving the state's plan for the $5-billion-plus bridge replacement. The move is the final step in the review of the project's environmental impact.
"With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge," Cuomo said in a statement.
President Barack Obama's fast-tracking of the project on Oct. 11, 2011, helped to accelerate the environmental review, Cuomo's office says. A draft environmental impact statement was published in January 2012 that was followed by public hearings that drew 1,100 individuals and garnered 3,000 written comments, it adds.
The federal approval follows an Aug. 20 meeting in which New York Metropolitan Transportation Council members voted unanimously to approve resolutions that allow for the planned replacement project to progress to the next stage (ENR New York 9/10 p. 11).
Cuomo followed that up with a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood saying that New York is seeking funding under the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The TIFIA program helps fund major transportation projects.
New York City
NYC Starts Fall 16% in First Half
Construction starts in New York City dropped 16% in the first half to $6.6 billion compared with the year-ago period, according to a recent New York Building Congress analysis of McGraw-Hill Construction Data. The non-residential sector took the hardest hit in the first six months, diving 48% to $3.2 billion, NYBC says. The data covers all project starts including new construction, alterations and renovations.
"The data from the non-residential sector, while disappointing, are understandable given the tepid pace of the city's and the nation's economic recovery," said Richard Anderson, NYBC president, in a statement. "While there's no shortage of planned projects, especially in the office sector, we are lacking the type of job growth and confidence in the overall economy that is necessary to get these projects off the ground quickly."
However, the two biggest construction starts in the first half occurred in this sector, he says. They are Macy's Herald Square's $400-million renovation and the World Financial Center's Winter Garden's $250-million renovation. A 12-story building at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan, No. 19 on the overall project list, was the largest office construction start.
Starts in both the residential and non-building sectors grew in the first half. Anderson says the residential sector data are "very encouraging," with starts totaling $1.9 billion, up from $929 million in the first half of 2011 and well above 2010's $1.3 billion and 2009's $1.5 billion first-half totals. This sector reached $3.5 billion in the same period in 2008, however.
"If you go back to July of 2011, this sector has generated nearly $4 billion in new projects," Anderson says.
Non-building activity grew to $1.5 billion, up 66% from the same period last year. NYBC says this sector's biggest starts in the first half were a $242-million project to connect the West 60th Street area to the Third Water Tunnel and a track and train signals project related to the ongoing construction of the Second Avenue Subway. The value of the latter project was not provided.
New York City
DDC Issues BIM Guidelines
The New York City Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC) issued building information modeling technology standards last month for new public buildings. The agency says the guidelines establish a framework to enable all future DDC-managed public building design projects to be delivered using 3D technologies and BIM processes.