- AECOM has hired two executives with decades of infrastructure-related experience to help lead its New York City-based group: Tom Prendergast, former chairman and CEO of the New York area Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Denise Berger, former chief of operations of the Engineering Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
- Prendergast has been named head of transit within AECOM's Design and Consulting Services Americas (DCSA) and Berger joins as senior vice president and COO of AECOM’s Northeast Region, which includes the metropolitan New York City area. Both leaders have already assumed their new roles, according to a press statement.
- The hires come at a critical moment for the future of transportation and transit for the New York City area, said Steve Morriss, DCSA president at AECOM, who noted that Congress will soon consider proposals to reauthorize and expand the national Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and other infrastructure-related legislation.
The acquisition of two such high-profile and seasoned infrastructure experts will position AECOM to tap into large projects coming online soon in the Big Apple. In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his fiscal year 2021 budget, which brings state investment in transportation infrastructure and other state-funded construction projects to $275 billion, the largest such plan in U.S. history.
The 2021 budget will help support New York City projects like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's $51.5 billion capital plan, the $11 billion Gateway Tunnel replacement project connecting New York and New Jersey and the $13 billion John F. Kennedy International Airport modernization program.
Prendergast, who will be focused on AECOM’s transit market across the Americas, spent most of his career in
senior leadership roles with the MTA, the largest agency of its kind in the country, serving over 8.5 million daily users. Called "one of the most powerful people in New York City" by the New York Times in 2017, he oversaw the region's sprawling transit network with an "unassuming style that brought praise from elected officials and transit advocates."
Berger will be focused on AECOM’s Northeast Region, with a primary emphasis on the development and execution of projects for New York Metro clients. According to LinkedIn, she has spent her 32-year-long career at the Port Authority, with the last two as chief of operations for the authority’s Engineering Department, which is comprised of more than 550 architects and engineers and has a $1.3 billion annual budget. Berger has led many large-scale capital projects for aviation, ports, tunnels, bridges, and terminals, Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) and the World Trade Center.
Berger was named an American Institute of Architects fellow in 2018 for her contributions in the development of civic improvements and governmental projects. "Her innovative policies and programs produced groundbreaking outcomes, elevating the stature of architecture in the public realm," according to AIA New York.
AECOM is not the only giant contracting firm that has set its sights on New York transit and transportation projects. Bechtel, the country's largest engineering and construction company by revenue, recently opened an office in Manhattan to take advantage of the infrastructure project demand there.
In a statement, Chairman and CEO Brendan Bechtel said the company is looking to partner with the city in its goal of "improving transportation, expanding digital technology and insuring access to safe, reliable infrastructure."