Helping solve Downtown’s construction problems
By Robert Harvey
Since beginning operations in March 2005, the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center has played a crucial role in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. The L.M.C.C.C. is coordinating the largest construction program in the city’s history -- approximately 55 million square feet of commercial and residential buildings, rehabs and conversions, as well as a complete roadway rebuilding and infrastructure replacement program, all within one square mile south of Canal St.
The agency holds multiple daily meetings with its stakeholders and is the “go-to” agency for construction issues. Our meetings are key to resolving issues face to face with all the stakeholders and agencies involved in rebuilding Downtown. We focus on making sure construction is done in a safe and expeditious manner, communicating what to expect to residents and businesses while protecting the quality of life in Lower Manhattan.
Our core function is construction coordination, a complex task, which has translated to approximately $350 million in savings to construction projects. We do this by analyzing the schedules and logistics of every project to help stakeholders come up with solutions to avoid or minimize delays in permits and the delivery of material, labor and equipment.
The Command Center has resolved many major construction issues in Lower Manhattan. We worked with various city and state agencies to do such things as lift restrictions on trucks to allow them to use the Williamsburg Bridge to help speed the delivery of concrete and increase capacity on concrete trucks coming through the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens-Midtown tunnels, reducing the number of truck trips. We identified on-street parking for trucks awaiting delivery, no small task in an area known for narrow streets.
When it was determined that the World Trade Center site would need more space to hold equipment, L.M.C.C.C. pinpointed off-street staging areas to help facilitate construction on the site. Those streets include Liberty, Trinity, Greenwich, Washington and even 11th Ave. near the Javits Center. Additionally, changes and improvements were made in enforcing existing traffic laws through the Command Center’s Construction Permit Enforcement Taskforce.
Air quality in Lower Manhattan has improved, due in part to the L.M.C.C.C.’s award-winning Environmental Compliance Department. It works with project sponsors to adopt “green” construction techniques, including the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to reduce emissions and high-tech filters on construction equipment practices. The program also monitors sites for noise and dust, major concerns in the community.
Continued outreach by our Community Relations Department ensures that residents, businesses and elected officials have a place to turn to when there are construction issues.
We have implemented a 4D system, showing timing-past and future-of all Downtown building, street and infrastructure work. This system integrates information collected from our meetings, field inspections, plans and schedules provide to the Command Center. It’s available on our simple-to-use Google- based maps on our website, LowerManhattan.info
Our Opportunity Downtown program, in conjunction with the Mayor’s Committee on Construction Opportunity and Borough of Manhattan Community College, has an ongoing program to train minorities and women in construction skills that translate into administrative career-track jobs.
The Command Center also works closely with the Port Authority on the W.T.C. site. Our award wining L.M.C.C.C.-developed analytic tool, combining value planning, risk management and 4D helps the W.T.C. stakeholders examine critical interrelationships between projects to meet significant dates in the rebuilding. Our work as a third party entity, allows us to provide independent analysis of project issues to the Governor and Mayor, to whom L.M.C.C.C. reports.
This year, the L.M.C.C.C. will be coordinating the street work associated with construction of the third water tunnel) as well as continuing our work with the city Depts. of Transportation and Design & Construction on street construction, street closures and pedestrian routing throughout Lower Manhattan. Staging for the work is on Hudson and Worth streets as well as side streets off Hudson, south of Laight.
The Google Maps/Google Earth features on our website will enable users to see construction hot spots and impacts on the street. In 2010, we’ll also be ramping up our traffic management system which enables drivers to see real-time traffic online before they drive in Lower Manhattan.
Under our executive order, the L.M.C.C.C. is set to sunset at the end of 2010, but recent meetings with representatives of Lower Manhattan’s elected officials, community and business leaders highlighted the need for the Command Center to be extended and we believe it’s beneficial to Lower Manhattan to continue our work. The timelines at the W.T.C. site have changed dramatically and the peak of construction Downtown is now slated to occur between 2011 and 2012.
Some of the other boroughs in N.Y.C. and several major cities around the world have reached out to us to study our business model, tools and techniques to mitigate the impacts of large construction projects on their communities.
The L.M.C.C.C. looks forward to continue serving its constituents in Lower Manhattan and to seeing the day when our community is a vibrant, 24-7 neighborhood with glistening new buildings, streets, infrastructure and parks.
Robert Harvey is executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Center.