Project will narrow Broadway down to 1 lane

Graphic courtesy of the NYC Dept. of Design and Construction The city’s repair project on Broadway will remain mostly on the street itself.
Graphic courtesy of the NYC Dept. of Design and Construction
The city’s repair project on Broadway will remain mostly on the street itself.

By KAITLYN MEADE  |  A reconstruction project beginning this month will close Downtown sections of Broadway for four years to replace utilities beneath the road. The city will close three of four lanes of the thoroughfare in two block sections between Rector and Ann Sts.

The $42 million capital reconstruction project is scheduled to begin in late July and continue for four years, said Thomas Foley, assistant commissioner of Manhattan construction for the city Department of Design and Construction.

“Not all of Broadway will be under construction for four years,” Foley reassured Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee July 1.

Instead, the project has been divided into eight sections which are each scheduled to take about six months each to complete.

“In essence, we’ll be constructing two blocks, two segments, at a time starting from the south and working north. One lane of traffic will be open at all times while we’re working on Broadway,” he explained.

The work is expected to begin from Rector St. to Pine St. this month. The construction will work its way north to John St., then double back to Rector St.

By that time, 2016, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to be finished reconstructing the Fulton St. station, clearing the way for the final sections between John and Ann Sts. to be done by the summer of 2017.

While four years sounds like a long time, Foley said the original project was far more extensive, and called for a seven-year schedule.

“Ninety-nine percent of the work is from curb line to curb line, so we will not be reconstructing the sidewalks, which is good news because the Alliance installed those, what, eight years ago, ten years ago,” Foley said in reference to the Downtown Alliance’s sidewalk markers commemorating every Canyon of Heroes parade up Broadway.

“Also, the existing granite curb will be remaining as well. And what that does is it limits the scope and it also limits the duration,” Foley added.

C.B.1 members did have concerns about the project.

“One lane on Broadway for four years is a devastating blow to Lower Manhattan. I’m sure you recognize that,” said Ro Sheffe, chairperson of C.B. 1’s committee. “I think extraordinary measures need to be taken to mitigate that. We discussed the possibility of banning tour buses during the entire phase of construction from that section of Broadway. Have you talked to D.O.T. about that?”

A Dept. of Transportation representative responded that they were in conversation with tour bus companies. The D.D.C. added that there was not yet a specific plan for bus and other traffic mitigation. They were asked to return to C.B. 1 in September or October to present an update.

There will also be traffic agents in the area of construction. The project’s budget allows for 10-12 agents to attempt to keep traffic moving.

The goal is to install new water mains under the streets and replace aging infrastructure and private utilities. This is a joint bid project, meaning it incorporates all aspects of underground infrastructure from Con Edison, Time Warner, E.C.S., a Verizon subsidiary, and the city.

The contractor, M.F.M. Contracting Corp. is also working on construction of Peck Slip and is licensed to do much of the utility work.

Construction will typically take place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., but the contractor is allowed to work until 10 p.m. at night, said Foley.

While service will be maintained throughout the project, water will be turned off in sections overnight.

Norberto Acevedo, Design & Construction’s deputy director of community outreach, noted that the contractor usually gives the city a schedule of work a week in advance, allowing them to contact the community about potential water shutdowns. A written or electronic notice of utility shutdowns will go out at least 24 hours in advance.

The city is encouraging community members with questions or complaints about the project to contact the project’s community liaison Liz Baptiste of HAKS Engineering at broadwayphase1ccl@gmail.com or call 311. A field office will be set up by the time the project begins, with a landline that will be active during the contractor’s working hours.