De Blasio Administration Calls for Design-Build Authorization for its Major Infrastructure Projects

June 2, 2017

At major $1.9 billion BQE rehab project, broad stakeholder coalition urges Albany passage of New York City Design Build authority to shave time and cut costs from major capital projects

NEW YORK—De Blasio Administration officials announced that New York City was ramping up its campaign for Design Build authority for major infrastructure projects that will maintain New York City’s economic strength and mobility.  DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora were joined by elected officials, business leaders and advocates in front of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) in downtown Brooklyn.  The Administration has dedicated $1.9 billion in capital funding over the next five years to completely rehabilitate the aging sixty-year old roadway.   They stressed the need for Albany passage of Design-Build authority to fund and complete the infrastructure work there -- and for seven other major projects.

“The BQE triple-cantilever is a critical economic lifeline to our city. Like many roads, bridges and buildings across the five boroughs, it is overdue for carefully planned and executed rehab work,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Throughout New York City, we have serious capital needs that cannot wait for an emergent crisis. It is critical we attend to these needs right away and in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. Design Build authority would save us time and money, which means our roadways would open sooner, emergency room wait times would decrease and the NYPD could begin training at their new facility. Design Build has been invaluable for the State, it can and should be for the City too.”

"The BQE-Atlantic to Sands is overdue for rehab - critical and complex work that no one in the world would take on without Design Build," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  "As a road central to the regional economy, the BQE must be fixed safely and efficiently, and Design Build could save us as much as $158 million and two-years' construction time on this single project.  I thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to this and other major capital projects.  We look forward to our work with state partners to give us the authority we need to get these jobs done with the least disruption and inconvenience."

“The history of Design Build in New York State shows that important City projects could benefit greatly if we were allowed to use this more efficient method for project delivery,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “Police precincts, highways and public hospitals could be built with shorter construction times at lower cost if the City had the Design-Build process that agencies such as the State DOT and State Thruway Authority have already employed on projects such as the new Tappan Zee Bridge. I am grateful to the legislators who are working to get this passed in Albany, and to the Mayor for sending a strong message of support.”

Today’s speakers cited the urgent need for Design-Build authority in state law to speed major capital projects.  Design Build streamlines the construction process by merging design and construction phases, saving both time and money.  Authorized for use by several New York state agencies since 2011, Design Build was used most prominently by the New York State Department of Transportation for the BQE's Kosciusko Bridge last month, just five miles north of the downtown Brooklyn BQE section controlled by New York City.

The rehabilitation of the 1.5-mile portion of the BQE between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street is the largest among major infrastructure projects planned by New York City.   Known for its distinctive triple-cantilever tiered structure (topped by the Brooklyn Heights promenade), the section of roadway is actually a succession of 21 different bridges.  Constructed in the 1940s, the Atlantic-to-Sands section of roadway has never been rehabilitated despite growing increasingly congested in the years since:  in the 1970s, 100,000 vehicles traveled it daily, with the number now exceeding 140,000 vehicles on an average weekday.  Trucks are a large share of that traffic, 17 percent during rush hours, as the road serves not only as a major access point to East River bridges to Manhattan but also as a major means of moving freight within the five boroughs (90 percent of truck traffic has a NYC destination).  With no breakdown or acceleration lanes, this narrow and congested section of the BQE suffers a disproportionate number of collisions and traffic delays.

In 2016, New York City DOT completed an in-depth inspection of the BQE Atlantic-to-Sands structure, the first since its original construction.  That inspection found that while the highway was structurally sound and safe, a full-scale rehabilitation was necessary in the next decade.  During 2016, DOT also substantially repaved the roadway on much of the structure, which has helped alleviate some of the breakdowns and traffic issues.

State legislation under consideration in Albany, A8134/S6427, sponsored by Assembly member Michael Benedetto and Senators Andrew Lanza and Martin Golden, would grant New York City authority to use Design-Build for eight designated major projects with a combined proposed budget of $2.5 billion.  Those projects are:

1) BQE - Atlantic to Sands, Brooklyn (Department of Transportation)
Budgeted cost: $1.89 billion ($1.72 billion for DOT; $170 million for Parks)

  • In addition to addressing the structural conditions on one of the most heavily traveled roads in New York City, the project will result in other significant enhancement by: 1) increasing vertical clearance along the Queens-bound BQE; 2) widening lanes and where feasible, adding standard shoulders to address high-crash rates and to bring the roadway up to national interstate standards; 3) making pedestrian improvements and increasing access to Brooklyn Bridge Park, especially at the Atlantic Avenue interchange; 4) improving drainage and lighting throughout the corridor.

2) Rodman's Neck Training Facility, Bronx (Department of Design and Construction on behalf of NYPD)                                 
Budgeted cost: $275 million

  • This project consists of the renovation of NYPD’s Rodman’s Neck Firearms Training Facility. The 48.7-acre site contains six open firing ranges and 21 wood frame and modular buildings.
  • The project consists of administrative spaces, armory, climate-controlled ammunition storage, a tactical village for enhanced training and additional shooting points to increase number of officers who can be trained simultaneously. The new facility will offer enhanced capabilities for movable targets and tactical training environments.

3) Crossroads Youth Facility, Brooklyn (DDC on behalf of Administration for Children’s Services)                                              
Budgeted cost: $129 million

  • The City is undertaking a major renovation and upgrade of its Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brooklyn.  The project’s design and construction will be managed by DDC.

4) Horizons Adolescent Facility, Bronx (DDC on behalf of Administration for Children’s Services)                                                 
Budgeted cost: $170 million

  • DOC plans to rebuild the Horizon Detention Center in the Bronx. The project’s design and construction will be managed by DDC.

5) New NYPD Precinct - SE Queens (DDC on behalf of NYPD)                                            
Budgeted cost: $70 million

  • This project would create a new NYPD Precinct, the 116th in Southeast Queens, created out of the southern portions of the existing 105th precinct.  The new precinct would serve the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, Brookville and Springfield Gardens.
  • The new 116th Precinct will address an increase in this area’s population and requests for law enforcement services, and help reduce response times.  Compared to the other 76 precincts Citywide, the current 105th Precinct has the 5th-largest precinct population (118,577 residents) and the 5th largest square mileage (12.43 square miles).

6) Staten Island Ferry Resiliency (DOT)                                                                     
Budgeted cost: $25 million

  • Almost 23 million passengers ride the Staten Island Ferry each year. In 2012, as a result of Superstorm Sandy, ferry passenger terminals in both Staten Island and Manhattan, along with the Ferry Maintenance Facility on Staten Island, were subject to heavy flooding and major mechanical/electrical system damage.
  • This major resiliency project includes the assessment, design and construction of systems necessary to ensure that this vital transit system is well-prepared and sufficiently resilient to withstand major flooding and increased incidents of severe weather in the future.

7) Pelham Parkway Bridge over Hutchinson River Parkway, Bronx (DOT)
Budgeted cost: $54.5 million

  • Pelham Parkway crosses the Hutchinson River Parkway just east of Stillwell Avenue.   A stone-arch bridge built in 1942, it consists of two spans with a total deck area of about 17,600 feet. The structure carries a total of six lanes of traffic, with sidewalks on both sides, for a total bridge width of 146.8 feet.
  • The project will bring the bridge into a state of good repair.

8) Elmhurst Hospital Emergency Room Renovation, Queens (Health + Hospitals)      
Budgeted cost: $20 million

  • Located at 79-01 Broadway, the project consists of renovating and expanding the Emergency Department at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, one of New York City’s busiest Trauma Centers with approximately 1200 trauma admissions per year.
  • The project addresses the demand for additional space to accommodate the hospital’s increased volume. Plans include more than 10,000 additional square feet of new space, an increase in treatment bays (48 to 80), an increase in nursing support areas, five additional isolation rooms, and centralized radiology services.

The Design-Build legislation would give the same benefit and cost savings to City agencies that New York State has realized on its projects, including eight projects that were authorized in the most recent State Budget. Design-Build contracts would be subject to applicable federal, state, and local requirements for disadvantaged business enterprises and minority and women-owned business enterprises. The Mayor recently announced the following MWBE commitments: Setting a Citywide goal of 30%; the Creation of the Mayor’s Office of MWBE and interest rate contract financing in the state of 3% up to $500,000 per loan. The use of Design-Build as a project delivery method will allow the City to complete more projects, increasing opportunities for MWBE firms. The City proposal includes Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for all projects utilizing Design-Build. Projects that utilize Design Build typically realize cost savings of at least 6 percent and an average time savings of 18 months.

“Speed and cost are important considerations in health care, and Design Build helps with both,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim President and Chief Executive Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “With Design Build, we can make better use of our limited resources and respond more quickly to real community need for services. We are always looking for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness, so for us, Design Build is a no-brainer.”

“The Rodman’s Neck Training Facility in the Bronx and an additional NYPD Precinct in Southeast Queens will provide needed infrastructure that will assist the NYPD in protecting New York City residents and providing essential law enforcement services,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

"I fully support the Mayor’s efforts to get Albany to approve the use of design build for major projects in the City," said State Senator Martin Golden. "We need design build authorization right now to begin work on two projects that are the highest priority for me, the reconstruction of the BQE and the Rodman's Neck training facility. I urge my Senate and Assembly colleagues, and especially Governor Cuomo, to approve design build for the City's major capital projects before the end of this session in three weeks."

"I am excited to see the next generation of infrastructure investments across my district and the city," said State Senator Diane Savino.  "Design Build and its benchmarks will bring much-needed jobs as well aesthetic and critical upgrades to parts of the city under daily transportation stress. These rehab projects are sure to be models of success for our city in the future."

"The BQE rehab will be painful, but design-build presents an opportunity to potentially shave years and millions from the project," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "I'm pushing BQE design-build authorization legislation in Albany to ensure the project -- and its impact on our community -- is finished as quickly as possible. The City has stepped up and taken the lead on this project -- Albany should at least be providing design-build authorization. I thank the City, DOT and Commissioner Trottenberg, and my colleagues in government."

"Design-Build has worked for state projects and saved taxpayers millions of dollars," said Assembly Member Michael Benedetto. "Why shouldn't New York City taxpayers be able to save some money?"

“Design Build is a valuable solution to save money and time," said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez.  "By expanding the method throughout the State, New York City will have the opportunity to address more of its capital project needs. It is a priority to work with my colleagues and statewide partners to see that we get it done,”

“I have long advocated for the use of Design-Build for the reconstruction of the BQE triple-cantilever, an antiquated but critical link in the Interstate Highway system that runs from Atlantic Avenue around Brooklyn Heights to Sands Street, and which significantly impacts the entire region’s economy," said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. "It’s time for the state to authorize Design-Build in order to streamline the City’s construction process and save both time and money to rebuild the BQE triple-cantilever and other critical infrastructure projects. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio for his continued leadership on this issue."

"Design-build contracting has already been used with great success in large public works projects across New York State and is recognized widely for its significant benefits in cost, time and quality," said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. "The authority to use design-build in New York City will result in huge savings to taxpayers and will have an immediate impact on our ability to improve and expand our infrastructure."

"By extending Design-build to city projects, we will expedite the construction process while decreasing costs" said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. "The Design-build process will be used for the new 116th Precinct in my community, helping expand public safety efforts. In addition, I look forward to working with the Governor and Mayor on Design-build projects for M/WBE's at John F. Kennedy International Airport."

“I know first-hand from major state BQE rebuild projects that Design and Build generates cost efficient projects with accelerated completion dates," said Assembly Member Joseph Lentol. "The program has produced less stress and disruption on my local neighborhoods."

"I want to commend the de Blasio administration’s call for the Design-Build legislation which would provide $1.7 billion in capital funding over the next five years to rehabilitate the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in downtown Brooklyn, as well as several other major capital transportation projects," said Assembly Member Walter Mosley. "It is no secret that many of our city’s infrastructure projects cannot wait until there is an emergency or crisis - such as crumbling structures, a state of emergency or a super storms like Hurricane Sandy. Design-Build will not only cut an average of 18 months off of major capital construction projects, but will also result in an average of 6% cost saving to the city of New York. Through Design-Build more crucial projects will be completed, while concurrently increasing opportunities for M/WBE firms across our city. I look forward to working in partnership with my colleagues to ensure we take the lead in building and maintaining our city’s infrastructure."

“Design Build will help speed up major capital infrastructure repairs in New York City," said Assembly Member Felix Ortiz. "I will continue to support this effort in Albany so that we can make the best improvements in the most expeditious manner. Following state DOT’s recent rebuilding of the Kosciusko Bridge last month, repairs to the BQE in downtown Brooklyn will help alleviate traffic along the Brooklyn waterfront. Infrastructure repair has been one of my priorities for many years."

“The paramount benefit to working with Design-Build has always been the faster timetable for construction, and so for major projects that will affect Staten Island commuters, such as the SI Ferry Resiliency project created to control for major flooding and severe weather, as well as the considerable undertaking needed for repairing the structural condition of the BQE, it’s imperative that the proper actions are taken to promptly move these projects along," said Assembly Member Michael Cusick.

"Albany must really enjoy watching the city throw money down the drain because without design-build authorization, that is literally what is happening. said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez.  "It is odd that we often see reticence on their part to support crucial city services, when, at the same time, they withhold our ability to save millions on major capital projects. Design-build can have a transformative impact on project delivery at a time when much of our key infrastructure truly needs it. It's time to expand this power to the City,"

"We need to use every tool available to maintain the infrastructure millions of New Yorkers rely on every single day," said Council Member Stephen Levin. "Even putting aside the economic, efficiency, and safety considerations, frequent and lengthy delays are just plain frustrating. Our City deserves better. Streamlining the design and construction process through Design Build will help us reduce the need of emergency repairs and keep New Yorkers moving forward."

“In NYC, there's no doubt that our capital projects are plagued by cost overruns and absurdly long delays,” said Council Member Brad Lander, the Council’s Deputy Leader of Policy. "While reforming NYC’s capital projects is no easy feat, design-build is an improvement to our capital projects management process that we know can bring real cost savings and more efficient project delivery to NYC."

“We must make every effort in our City to boost opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises and the State’s Design Build bill is a prime example of how we can address disadvantaged business owners,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. “Working together across the state to build up our women and communities of color is a victory for all New Yorkers and I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo as we move projects forward.”

"It is time for NYC to have access to design-build," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "The use of design-build as a project delivery method has proven successful across the state, saving New York tax payers millions of dollars and countless hours of labor. Local implementation of the program would allow our city to take advantage of these benefits. Because design-build epitomizes good government, I call on the state to pass legislation allowing NYC to utilize it."

With some projects in my district taking years to complete, I am always looking for ways we can save time and expense while still providing good paying jobs to New Yorkers," said Council Member Debi Rose. "Design-Build is a win-win for taxpayers and contractors alike, a process that the state has benefitted from on several projects already, including a Staten Island Ferry resiliency project in my district. I join my colleagues in city government in calling on the state to move to Design-Build so that New York City can move forward with projects efficiently, provide more jobs to New Yorkers and help us meet our goals for minority- and women-owned business enterprises."

“To compete successfully for federal infrastructure funds, New York City must have flexible procurement and contracting authority that allows it to build projects better, faster, cheaper," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.  "Business and labor are united in urging the state legislature to act now on authorization for city agencies to use the design-build approach to modernizing our deteriorating infrastructure."

“Design Build has been utilized with great success in New York City to build new bridges, airport facilities and schools, as well as for emergency construction after Superstorm Sandy," said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO, New York Building Congress.  "In each case, it has led to dramatic reductions in both cost and schedule. Along with countless other infrastructure developments across New York, the eight projects designated in this legislation would dramatically improve our quality of life, and we owe it to New Yorkers across the five boroughs to finish them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Design Build has passed every test, and the time is now for the State Legislature to grant New York City the authority to make full use of this proven construction process.”

“Design Build will help spur needed investments in our infrastructure,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “And more infrastructure projects will mean more good middle class jobs for our members.   We strongly support this legislation which also includes significant worker protections."

“From the Kosciuszko Bridge to emergency work after Hurricane Irene, design-build has delivered big results in New York…except in the city," said Lisa Washington, Executive Director/CEO of the Design-Build Institute of America.  "Unless lawmakers act soon, New York City will once again have to watch from the sidelines as successful design-build projects all around it deliver increased innovation and efficiencies inexplicably denied to city residents. The possibility that New York City could once again be denied billions of dollars in infrastructure savings and years in shortened project delivery time is a legislative travesty."

“Drivers don’t care about the intricacies of the procurement process. They just want road and bridge work done safely, expeditiously, and economically,” said John Corlett, Director of Government Affairs for American Automobile Association (AAA) Northeast. “Design-build has the potential to save time and money for construction on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and New York City should be able to use it.”

“The ability to use design-build for certain projects could be an enormous benefit to New York City, said Jay Simson, President, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York. “When done right, design-build can allow design professionals and contractors to deliver projects faster and on budget, which benefits not only public owners but also the overall community.”

“Design Build is a way to save taxpayer money, build a project faster, build it on-time and on budget and deliver a great product to New Yorkers," said Lou Coletti, President & CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association of New York.  "The Building Trades Employers’ Association knows that NYC gaining the authority for Design Build will benefit labor, management, the entire industry and most importantly, the citizens.”

“Design-build would ensure that the limited funding New York City has to upgrade its aging infrastructure could be stretched a lot further,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, an independent think tank that has published reports detailing New York City’s aging infrastructure. “Governor Cuomo and the Legislature understand that Design-build is critical for major infrastructure projects across the state. It makes no sense to deny New York City the chance to benefit from this important cost-saving mechanism as well.”

“Design build has allowed various New York State agencies, departments and authorities to streamline projects leading to cost savings and expedited timelines," said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.  "It's time for NYC to also have design build authority to deliver less costly and more timely projects for New York City taxpayers."


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