Volume 18 • Issue 27 | November 18 - 24, 2005

The PATH to rebuilding / Progress Report

Construction Commander

Working to reduce the pain from $20 billion worth of construction

By Charles J. Maikish

On Nov. 22, 2004, Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg established the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center through joint executive orders. In April of this year, I began my tenure as the executive director of the Command Center reporting directly to both the governor and the mayor and was charged with the responsibility of coordinating construction in Lower Manhattan south of Canal St., river to river.

As the end of 2005 approaches, the Construction Command Center is ready to meet head-on the challenges that await us in 2006. We will continue to fulfill our mission to facilitate, mitigate and communicate about the more than $20 billion infrastructure investment taking place in Lower Manhattan.

My core L.M.C.C.C. staff now participates in numerous meetings on a weekly and monthly basis to facilitate an ongoing dialogue — not only with our agency partners and project sponsors — but most importantly, with the community.

One of the more significant directives we have at the Command Center is to coordinate all the major construction work in Lower Manhattan. We host a bi-weekly construction coordination meeting to address any issues of concern and to obtain progress reports on projects from each of the agencies and private entities involved in construction in Lower Manhattan. It is a planning measure which goes a long way toward heading off redundant and unnecessary work and resolving and discussing issues at a granular level in order to prevent more dramatic problems in the future.

While it is a fact of life that construction is messy, loud and inconvenient — there are additional measures that can mitigate the impact of construction on the greater community.

We are working with labor to ensure that Lower Manhattan isn’t clogged with the personal vehicles of a daily construction workforce of 10,000 to 15,000 over the next three to five years. We are encouraging them to explore their mass transit options as well as brainstorming ideas for central mobilization points to transfer workers in by ferry, bus, etc.

Emphasis is also being placed on the need for “just-in-time” delivery of concrete, steel, and other materials so that major thoroughfares and side streets in Lower Manhattan don’t become needlessly clogged with trucks and construction equipment. We are considering options for a localized concrete batching plant and citing sensible layover areas for material storage.

We are working with the city’s Dept. of Transportation and the N.Y.P.D. to establish a traffic monitoring station in the Command Center with dedicated traffic enforcement agents to ensure an expedited response to any critical congestion problem that may arise as well as the potential for towing capability to assist with enforcement of traffic and parking regulations.

Environmental monitoring is another key aspect to the work we are doing at the Command Center. We have now identified four locations for area-wide air monitoring: 90 Maiden Lane, 292 Greenwich St. (P.S. 234), 80 Catherine St. (P.S. 80), 1 World Financial Center (Albany & South End Ave.). Results will be monitored daily and regular posting of the results will be coming to LowerManhattan.info shortly.

Communicating this kind of information is a vital and necessary aspect to our agency’s mission and we have taken various steps to ensure that the public is as informed as possible about what is going on around them.

For example, we have made a commitment to attend Community Board 1 and Downtown Alliance meetings on a regular basis — which we are doing and will continue to make presentations to both entities as well as to any civic or business group that asks for a direct update from our team.

In the coming months, the LowerManhattan.info Web site will get a new look — with a shift in focus toward construction issues, improving usability, enhancing interactive capability and enabling our stakeholders and all other interested parties to visualize how Lower Manhattan will transform over the next several years.

A concerted effort is underway to improve the look of construction work zones. We are striving toward an agreed upon methodology of fencing off construction sites, ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the surrounding area and improving upon the now recognizable “What’s Going On Here” signage campaign that has been implemented in the past. We want people to be able to “see” what will be the end result of the hole in the street or the scaffold-enshrouded building. We want to show people that there is a payoff in the end for the bit of pain they are experiencing now.

While a great deal of the internal structure for the Command Center has been put in place, we are by no means operating in a closed environment. We want input from the community if something isn’t working. While we will function as the nerve center for what will be taking place over the next several years in Lower Manhattan, our greatest asset in all this are the residents, commuters, businesses and even tourists. In order for us to succeed in our efforts we need all of you to be active and dedicated partners in this endeavor.

If you have a concern or question about what’s going on in Lower Manhattan, take a look at www.lowermanhattan.info or contact Robin Forst, director of community relations at 212-266-7811.

Charles J. Maikish is the executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert


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