New York City deserves design-build authority - by Carlo Scissura

July 18, 2017 - New York City
Carlo Scissura,
New York Building Congress

New York City is increasingly reliant on an outdated infrastructure system that is straining to keep pace with the city’s growing population and employment base. In order for the city to maintain its economic strength and mobility, it is essential that this aging infrastructure is modernized and expanded, and as quickly and efficiently as possible.  For that reason, it is crucial that the State legislature extend design-build authorization to New York City.  

The streamlined approach to construction is proven to shorten timelines and cut costs for major projects, yet its broad use is still not permitted for the city. Under the leadership of governor Andrew Cuomo, design-build has been utilized with great success to build new bridges, airport facilities and schools, as well as for emergency construction following Superstorm Sandy.  In each case, it has led to dramatic reductions in both cost and schedule.  

Using design-build, the Kosciuszko Bridge was recently completed four years ahead of schedule, giving the city its first significant new bridge in more than 50 years. And construction is continuing at the Tappan Zee Bridge, another design-build project, on budget and ahead of schedule.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has recognized the need for design-build as his administration undertakes the infrastructure improvements necessary for the city to remain competitive.  He recently called for its authorization for a number of critical projects, including the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway triple-cantilever.  The 1.5-mile stretch of highway is a critical piece of infrastructure that serves as a major transit artery in our city, but it needs a major overhaul. Department of Transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg has indicated that by using design-build for the BQE project, the city could save as much as $300 million and two years construction time. 

Design-build has passed every test. The state legislature owes it to residents across the five boroughs to authorize design-build, so that the city’s vital assets can be improved and expanded in the most expeditious and cost-effective manner.

Carlo Scissura is the president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, New York, N.Y.

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