Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced a new digital program to reduce the impact of construction on city roads by better coordinating utility and private construction company work. The online program – called the Street Works Manual – is the City’s most far-reaching effort to improve coordination among utility companies, contractors and agencies to minimize the number of times streets are dug up, reducing congestion and extending the life of resurfacing projects. The Department of Transportation has already enhanced its permit and inspection procedures and now can issue 90 percent of all permits electronically, with most permits issued within just one or two days of an application.
In Fiscal Year 2011, the department issued nearly 265,000 permits for work in city streets by utilities, construction companies and contractors. The Mayor made the announcement on Skillman Avenue in Queens, where recent Con Edison work was coordinated with a City road resurfacing project, combining the two projects and eliminating the need for the road to be dug up twice. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by State Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Con Edison Vice President for Government Relations John Banks and National Grid New York President Ken Daly.
“We’re going to improve something that’s aggravated New Yorkers since we’ve had paved roads – streets getting torn up, repaved, and then sometimes getting torn up all over again for another project,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve designed a new online program to improve coordination of street projects, keeping more streets open for traffic and cutting costs. Utility companies and contractors will coordinate their work with the City, to ensure, for example, that non-emergency repair work does not start a month after a road was resurfaced or a month after another utility was working in the same location.”
“Many New Yorkers have experienced the frustration of watching work crews tear up a street that’s just been repaved,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “The streets are the foundation for the city’s infrastructure and this landmark agreement will help reduce the toll of construction on our streets and keep them open for business.”
“Creating jobs means removing impediments to economic growth like congestion,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “By getting our utility and construction companies on the same page, we can reduce road work and move people and goods through the city move efficiently, helping to ensure New York remains the world’s premier city to conduct business.”
“For too long, New Yorkers have been plagued with excessive roadwork, congestion and noise due to a lack of coordination between utilities, city agencies and construction companies,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “This new process will improve quality of life by streamlining work so that several projects are completed at once, reducing the many aggravations resulting from redundant and seemingly endless street construction.”
“I commend the Mayor and the Department of Transportation for working to better coordinate milling and repaving with other necessary street work,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “We need our roads paved and clear of potholes and we should do all we can to mitigate the number of times a street is ripped up for work by other agencies.”
“All of our 14,000 employees work hard every day to deliver reliable electric, gas and steam service to New Yorkers,” said Marc Huestis, Con Edison vice president for construction. “This information exchange initiative promises to be a valuable tool for improving how we coordinate and deliver better service to our customers and the communities in which they live.”
“National Grid is happy to be a part of the Street Works Manual initiative,” said Ken Daly, President National Grid for New York. “National Grid is focused on delivering low cost service to our customers, while investing and modernizing our gas infrastructure and supporting the growth of our local communities. We always strive to work closely with other utilities and agencies to coordinate our infrastructure improvement projects to minimize the cost and impact to our communities and customers. The new Street Works manual is a useful tool to help us work even more efficiently through smart planning to improve the quality of our city streets.”
The manual formalizes agreements made with the utility industry to share information on which streets are scheduled to be dug up for construction or utility work, giving other utilities the opportunity to make repairs to their infrastructure before the street is resurfaced. Street excavation permits, resurfacing schedules and utilities’ project schedules will now be shared and updated regularly on www.nyc.gov, including online maps showing which streets are scheduled for upcoming work.
The City has started posting information about capital projects underway or in planning across all City agencies via the online NYCityMap on www.nyc.gov. Utility and other companies can now see if other projects are planned and, under the new agreement, contact the City to coordinate street-related work either at the same time or in tandem, rather than re-excavating and re-surfacing streets. The maps also display “Protected Streets” – roads that have been recently resurfaced and require both a higher permitting fee and stricter restoration requirements if a utility plans to do work there.
The new protocol also includes increased fines for digging up or closing streets without a permit and stronger incentives for collaboration and coordination. The fine for opening a non-protected street without a permit was nearly doubled to $1,500, while the fine for opening a Protected Street without a permit was increased by nearly to $1,800. These steps will reduce unauthorized street work and offer stronger incentives for coordination between City government and the private sector.