Lawmakers urge Cuomo to use design-build for BQE
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 17, 2018 | 2326 views | 0 0 comments | 154 154 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A bipartisan group of state legislators are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to authorize design-build methods to expedite the reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).

In a January 5th letter signed by 19 lawmakers from Brooklyn and Staten Island, the legislators said the design-build procurement process would speed up the project by two years and save more than $113 million on the $1.9 billion price tag.

Signees included state senators Brian Kavanagh and Martin Dilan, and assembly members Jo Anne Simon, Robert Carroll, Maritza Davila and Joseph Lentol.

“This portion of Interstate 278 is a critical link in the region’s transportation system,” they wrote, “and a prolonged reconstruction could damage the region’s economy.”

In particular, the letter focuses on a 1.5-mile stretch between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street in Brooklyn Heights, which has a triple cantilever that was built in the mid-1940s. Lawmakers said the roadways on that wide promenade are rapidly deteriorating, and have not undergone construction since it was built decades ago.

That part of the BQE currently carries more than 150,000 cars and trucks per day. A Department of Transportation (DOT) analysis concluded that a complete rehabilitation of that portion must begin now to ensure its long-term safety.

“Because of the high levels of congestion, including large freight trucks, the roadway is under increasingly serious pressure,” they wrote, “particularly to the outermost lane of each level of the cantilevered portion.”

According to DOT, if the construction isn’t done by 2026, the agency may have to bar truck traffic between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street to extend the life of the structure.

“This potential diversion would have a profound impact on both traffic and public safety through Brooklyn communities and the region,” they said. “The only way to mitigate this massive disruption is to authorize the city to use design-build for this project.”

Design-build is a method that allows one team to work under a single contract with the project owner. Rather than the traditional method of bidding out the design and construction aspects to separate companies, design-build allows one company to follow through the project to completion.

The method was used for the first spans of the Kosciuszko Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The lawmakers said due to the “time-sensitive deadlines” for this project, legislation giving authority to the city to use design-build needs to be enacted by the end of the State Senate budget process this year.

They added that the project will impact neighborhoods adjacent to the BQE, such as Downtown Brooklyn, which is the third largest business district in the state. They fear local streets will be damaged by the wear and tear from increased truck traffic.

“This project must be able to proceed using a process that will lessen these impacts and save taxpayers’ money, at no cost to the state,” they said.
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