CCA legislation would accelerate rebuilding in Lower Manhattan
Have you ever seen a street torn up one week by Con Ed to replace underground cables, only to be repaved and torn up again a week later by the city replacing sewage pipes? Jason Howard, a photographer who lives at the corner of Wall Street and Exchange Place, sees it more often than he'd like. "There is always some type of work, some road closed," he says. "I've stopped paying attention to who it is doing the work or what kind of work is being done."
The frequency of disruptions is frustrating, Howard says, especially when it makes it hard for his friends to reach his apartment door or find parking nearby. "But there's nothing you can do about it really," he concedes. "I just take it as a part of where I live."
In fact, there is something that can be done. There's a reason the streets outside Howard's apartment are torn up as often as they are. It's because currently, the city and the utility and telecommunications companies are NOT allowed to work together on infrastructure projects. They would need a new state law to permit them to do this, and that state law has never been passed. So streets are ripped up once for city needs and then might well be ripped up again for the telephone company. This inability to work together creates great disruption and inconvenience for local residents and businesses. Meanwhile up in Albany -- and, in fact, throughout the state -- this type of joint bidding is allowed.
One could argue that Lower Manhattan, still recovering from the events of 9/11, deserves to have its streets torn up only as often as Rhinebeck or Sarasota Springs. Or that the federal government and federal taxpayers, who have committed $6 billion to downtown's redevelopment, deserve to have that money spent efficiently. To this end, the city is seeking passage of state legislation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to Albany almost a year ago.
Called the Coordinated Construction Act for Lower Manhattan (CCA), the legislation proposes to speed the rebuilding of the entire area south of Houston Street and promote safety and fairness. One of its provisions would allow the city to conduct joint bidding on street work with the utility and telecommunications companies under strict guidelines that protect the city's interests. Gone would be the days of needless, repeated disruptions for Howard and his neighbors as streets are ripped open time and time again.
Safer Neighborhoods, Safer Construction Sites
Another important gain from the passage of the legislation would be safety -- for people who live, work, and visit downtown and for the workers on the construction sites. The CCA includes several safety provisions that cover the multiple construction sites that will be set up in Lower Manhattan, including construction to connect downtown to the airports, develop the East River Waterfront, and create neighborhood public squares and parks.
|Planned Projects That Will Be Affected by the CCA*
|Hudson River Park (HRPT)
|East River Waterfront
|Libraries, museums, cultural space
|*The projects and estimated costs are based on "New York City's Vision for Lower Manhattan," issued by Mayor Bloomberg in December 2002. All of the projects will be funded in whole or in part with federal dollars but totals are subject to change.
Construction brings concerns about air quality for residents and workers in the area, and rightly so. In an effort to reduce harmful emissions from construction equipment, the CCA includes a provision that would require contractors to use only ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Another provision in the legislation would make it easier and cheaper for the city to purchase this fuel.
"The CCA will reduce the impact on the environment, in particular the noise and pollution," says Robert Yaro, who chairs the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, a coalition of civic, business, community, environmental, labor, and academic organizations formed in the aftermath of 9/11. "For those of us who live and work here, that's very important," he says. "Especially since Lower Manhattan will be the site of so much construction over the next 10 years."
And just as protecting the quality of the air is important, other construction-related safety concerns deserve attention as well. Newspapers regularly report accidents on and around construction sites and the injuries and deaths that result from them. If passed, the CCA would require the city to hire only contractors with excellent safety records and well-established, successful programs to train their apprentices and workers. By placing a premium on safety and training, the legislation will help ensure that construction sites are safe for the people who work there, and also for the people who pass by.
|Cranes and other construction equipment would be required to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel
Ensuring Fairness in How Rebuilding Work is Distributed
Another important goal of the legislation is fairness, ensuring that all New Yorkers share in the work that will be generated. The cleanup of the World Trade Center site, despite its tremendous successes, has been criticized for the lack of participation by minority- and women-owned construction contractors (MWBEs). As redevelopment work continues, this criticism must be addressed.
|CCA would demand that the city hire only contractors with excellent safety records
The CCA would require the city and its contractors to establish up-front goals for the employment of MWBEs, document their efforts to reach out to them, and report publicly on their success. It would also require the city to hire only contractors that have a history of working with MWBEs.
These provisions have won the praise of the National Hispanic Business Group. Gilbert Rivera, the group's chair, writes: "Since minority- and women-owned businesses did not have a real chance to participate in the cleanup of the World Trade Center, I am pleased to see that the city and state are determined to promote fairness as well as speed and safety in the redevelopment of the entire downtown area."
In fact, the CCA is supported by a wide range of business, labor, environmental, minority, and civic groups. Many have written and spoken to Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Speaker Sheldon Silver urging the bill's passage.
Association for a Better New York (ABNY)
Association of the Bar of the City of New York
Alliance for Downtown New York
American Planning Association, Metro Chapter
Asian-American Business Development Center
Building Construction Trades Council (BCTC)
Building Trades Employers' Association (BTEA)
Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Community Board One
Community Board Two
Jamaica Business Resource Center
Minority Business Leadership Council
National Association of Minority Contractors, NYS Chapter
National Hispanic Business Group
New York Building Congress
New York League of Conservation Voters
Non-Traditional Employment for Women
100 Black Men of New York
Partnership for New York City
Professional Women in Construction
Real Estate Board of New York
Regional Association of Small Contractors
Wall Street Rising
Women's City Club of New York
With construction for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan scheduled to begin later this year, the city needs the legislation passed in this Albany session. Letters in support of the proposed legislation can help make this happen.
To lend your voice in favor of passage of the CCA, contact your senator or assemblyman today.
Letters of support can be sent to the following addresses:
|Senator Joseph Bruno
43rd Senate District
Room 909 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
New York State Assembly
Room 932 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248