Photo: Lloyd Mulvey

Innovative project delivery and methods are set to ramp up in New York and New Jersey, along with billions of dollars in reconstruction of road and rail assets over the next five to ten years. Officials with major transportation agencies said they are striving to streamline contract delivery processes and improve outreach to minority- and women- owned firms as they launch massive capital programs over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is launching an aggressive 10-year capital improvement program worth up to $28 billion, said David Tweedy, the agency’s chief of capital programs. He was a speaker at a forum hosted by Professional Women in Construction’s New York chapter July 18. “Eight to nine billion is for keeping the lights on, the bridges sound and the buildings intact,” he said.

The PWC-hosted transportation forum, put together by aviation consultant William Fife, has been an annual event for over a decade. Last year speakers from the same agencies also promised more P3 and innovative delivery progress, and this year they updated attendees on the advancement of these trends.

Tweedy noted that the rehabilitation of the Goethals Bridge will occur in a public-private partnership, with availbility payments. “This is indicative of where we’re at,” he said. “The bridge would not be rebuilt in the next 20 years without a P3—there are too many competing needs.” The World Trade Center site, he said, still has $6-7 billion in work to be completed, and Sandy caused some $2 billion in damage.

The New York State Dept. of Transportation will use design-build for the upgrade of the Kosciuszko Bridge, added Diane Lombardi, NYSDOT’s director of external relations. She said the first $550-million phase to add three new lanes to the six-lane bridge will begin next year, with a second phase to cost $800 million. Moreover, NYSDOT will join the states using Accelerated Bridge Construction methods. On August 6-10, a $1.5 million deck replacement on the Hutchinson River Parkway bridge over the Boston Post Road in Westchester County will use accelerated construction methods. This fall, when two bridges on Interstate 84 at Dingle Ridge Road will be replaced in two weekend closures with new bridges that will slide into place. The method will save $2 million and two years of construction, she said.

The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority is nearing the tail end of its $24-billion 2010-2014 capital plan, but Post-Sandy repairs spurred a $4.7-billion amendment last fall, said Nuria Fernandez, the MTA’s chief operating officer. That entails an additional 260 projects. “We don’t have a lot of time to plan and put out these contracts, and we need tweaks to the process,” she said. The MTA is looking at modifying procurement guidelines regarding change orders for these projects, including raising the minimum threshold of $250,000 to $750 million for when a change order requires approval by the board. Fernandez noted that the threshold for requiring board approval was established 28 years ago, yet never revised accordingly.

The MTA’s next five-year plan will be at least as big as the current one, she added.

New Jersey Transit’splans will include $600 million over five years in improvements to the Northeast Corridor, including station improvements and early action contracts related to the Portal Bridge, said Leotis Sanders, vice president of the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity for the agency. NJ Transit this summer launched a new program aimed at providing all 1,400 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises on its list with the opportunity to attend day-long seminars on its DBE guidelines, he added. The agency established two years ago a “scorecard” in which it assesses itself on customer service, safety, budget, employee satisfaction and corporate accountability, he said.