Aileen Cho

The agency will also be spending some security-related money—$500 million for the next capital program plus the remainder of $500 million in the last— and will seek consultants on various security-related jobs, Crawford said.

Another panelist, Douglas Curry, regional director for the New York State Dept. of Transportation, emphasized the importance of a $2.9-billion bond issue to be voted on this November. The money would divid funds between the state DOT and the MTA. He noted that the NYSDOT is reorganizing internally, creating different departments for design and construction, operations and planning and policy. Creating key freight centers throughout the state will be key, he said. As for design-build legislation, “we’re optimistic it will come,” he said. “”We’re ready to go with design-build.”

Donald Framm, the chief architect for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, says the agency is planning, among other projects, a 1,900-space new parking garage at John F. Kennedy Airport and expansion of LaGuardia’s terminals to handle 30 million passengers by 2020. Just as the NYSDOT envisions key spots for moving freight throughout the state, so the port authority envisioned more transit-based growth centers to handle an anticipated 2.4 million new New York City residents by 2025. The redevelopment of Jamaica, Queens around the Airtrain terminal there is one example.

Another port authority project, still in the environmental and planning stages, involves the Goethals Bridge replacement. The agency will say little officially, but the bridge design team working on steel and cable-stayed options is a formidable one: It’s led by Figg Engineering Group, Tallahassee, and HNTB, Kansas City.

On a recent visit to Los Angeles, I attended a Women’s Transportation Seminar meeting that featured new Caltrans engineer Richard Land. Afterwards, I got to visit the new Caltrans district headquarters—an architectural icon of a building that features solar panels, a central glass-walled empty box that allows views of the floors on every side, and a surreal conference room with opaque colored blocks of glowing light. (One random observation from a 10-year New Yorker—they’re not afraid of having a 13th floor button in the elevator).

In one way it reminded me of the “Taj Majal” that the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation built for itself back in the early 90s amidst the bleak nothingless of Hartford. One might debate the issue of splendid buildings being built for agencies struggling with capital budgets. But the Caltrans building demonstrated a marvelous efficiency in use of light, space and layout. And it’s part of downtown Los Angeles’ evolving renaissance from a bleak after-5 p.m. ghost town into something resembling a true downtown core.

The point, here, is not so much the building but the truly 21st-century American generation of engineers, planners and managers inhabiting it. Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation District 7 assistant general manager James Okazaki took me under his wing and through the building (all the while reminding Caltrans folks that LADOT could make great use of some of those spare floors), stopping constantly to do quick business with his colleagues. Ozakazi is in charge of a bus rapid transit project expansion from the city’s original 2 lines and 38 miles to 28 lines and 450 miles, an approximately $80-million endeavor. Black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and women engineers in high-level positions were everywhere. It was like being at a Minorities in Construction/Women In Construction meeting, but the beauty of it was that this was just another day at the engineering office.

Aileen Cho is ENR Associate Editor for Transportation.

esigners and architects looking for future contracts with the Metropolitan Transportation Administration’s New York City Transit Authority should pay more attention to bus depots. Cosema Crawford, chief engineer for the NYCTA, said at a mid-April transportation breakfast forum that “we receive 40 to 50 design proposals for every station redesign; we get three or four for a bus depot.” The subway station rehabilitation program is restrained by a limited capital budget. The subway core maintenance budget will get about $15 billion over the next five years; Crawford says the needs equal $17 billion. Consultants and contractors should look at work relating to “hidden infrastructure”—some $3.3 billion in fan plants, substations and maintenance facilities. While most construction management and about 60 percent of design tends to be in-house, Crawford notes that the agency is looking for consultants to help achieve a “formal commissioning” approach, with the goal of maintaining a system for a life cycle.