Joe Simenic heads the LMCCC
The work of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (LMCCC) remains at the heart of the post-9/11 rebuilding effort. Launched in 2005 by joint executive orders from the governor and mayor, the agency immediately began its charge to ensure the steady rebuilding of the area, while mitigating construction impacts on the local community.
At the Command Center's helm is Acting Executive Director Joe Simenic, who brings an expertise in project management, interagency coordination, public policy, and real-estate finance. Prior to joining the Command Center in the spring of 2011, Mr. Simenic worked as Director of Downstate Infrastructure & Economic Development Policy in the Governors Office where he was actively involved in the World Trade Center negotiations in 2009-10, and as the governors day-to-day liaison with the Port Authority, MTA, LMDC, downstate ESDC, and State DOT.
Mr. Simenic's work is pivotal to the highly detailed synchronization needed for dozens of projects active south of Canal Street -- which together amount to approximately $20 billion in active construction.
In addition to coordinating the scheduling and staging of the major public and private projects downtown, Mr. Simenic is involved with day-to-day construction planning, serving as a liaison between projects, agencies, and other downtown stakeholders -- all while working to maintain the quality of life in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Simenic works closely with the Command Center's Deputy Executive Director Robin Forst, and Director of Construction Coordination and Environmental Compliance Mark Paquiz on mitigating impacts to the environment and mobility, maintaining and improving access, and alleviating congestion of any kind related to construction.
As the "new" downtown continues to take shape with residential towers, schools, corporate offices, and international hotels, much work still lies ahead for the LMCCC.
We asked Mr. Simenic three questions about the agency he leads, and the work it's doing to keep Lower Manhattan thriving.
What are today's key projects and priorities for the LMCCC?
Mr. Simenic: The Command Center's major priorities are the coordination of more than 60 public and private projects downtown and the mitigation of negative construction impacts imposed on the residents and businesses in Lower Manhattan. Environmental compliance, specifically air-quality and noise mitigation, is also a major focus of the Command Center.
The Command Centers coordination efforts are focused on the interfaces between public projects such as the World Trade Center site; the MTA's Fulton Center; the city DDC's Hudson Street Trunk Water Main and other water-main replacement projects; and the various road-reconstruction projects, such as on Fulton Street. All of these projects have logistics and utility-coordination priorities that at times overlap with one another.
How has the LMCCC's work helped the Lower Manhattan community?
The community benefits the most from the Command Center's quality of life programs -- including community and government outreach and environmental compliance. We host bi-weekly community stakeholder meetings for all the major public and private projects in Lower Manhattan, and regular special community project meetings for large public projects. In addition to the community meetings, the Command Center works closely with elected officials and agencies to identify and resolve potential health, safety, traffic, or other construction-related issues that have a negative impact on the community.
Our environmental compliance activities have successfully reduced the impact of noise on residents. Our air-quality program also has led to fewer idling vehicles and a reduction in high-sulfur-emitting construction equipment.
Finally, the Command Centers construction-coordination efforts have diminished disruptive impacts to the quality of life of residents and businesses. Inter-agency and project coordination improve the probability that projects will finish on time -- which is key because it lessens the financial impact on the businesses adjacent to the construction projects.
How does both project and program coordination and scheduling affect the Lower Manhattan rebuilding effort?
The Command Center requests a schedule from each public or private project in Lower Manhattan before the project begins. These schedules are updated at weekly project-coordination meetings and give Command Center staff enough information to develop an approximation for the timing of "critical path" activities or milestones for individual projects.
By compiling all of the public schedules, the Command Center is able to develop master schedules for project "hot spots." These hot spots typically occur where major public improvement projects either interfere with another public project or with private building projects.
A good example of a hot spot is the road reconstruction of Broadway between Ann and Rector Street, which is slated to begin in spring 2013. This project interfaces with the MTA's Fulton Center (scheduled for 2014 completion), and the construction logistics for the Port Authority's WTC Transportation Hub (scheduled for 2015 completion).
In order to accommodate the needs of all the projects, the Command Center works with project sponsors to refine these master schedules, and reprioritize conflicting construction or logistic activities -- so that each project doesn't unduly impact its neighboring projects. City DOT is instrumental to these coordination efforts through permit issuance and enforcement. Most of the time, the Command Center, City DOT, and the project sponsors successfully avoid or minimize project-schedule delays.
By anticipating these conflicts ahead of time, we can reduce schedule breakage and the cost escalation that's typically associated with those delays. To date, the Command Center estimates that its coordination efforts have saved public and private projects more than $450 million in avoided project delay costs since 2005.