NY lawmakers' inaction on design-build legislation could delay $2B bridge project
- New York state lawmakers have adjourned for their summer recess without passing legislation that would have allowed New York City to use the design-build delivery method on eight projects, including the $1.9 billion replacement of a dilapidated section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), according to Crain's New York Business.
- The bill was backed by many legislators and New York City officials, including the commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation, because it could, for the BQE alone, save up to $300 million and cut two years from the construction schedule. State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, however, said the issues around authorizing design-build needed more discussion.
- There is a possibility that lawmakers could pass a design-build bill when the new legislative session starts in January. If that doesn't happen, then the city will be forced to bid out the projects using standard methods, which could delay the anticipated 2020 start of construction on the BQE.
Up until the end of the latest session, design-build proponents were enthusiastic about the chances of the bill's passage. NYCDOT officials led the public charge last month in calling on lawmakers to let them use the method and pointed to the success of the $550 million Brooklyn-Queens Kosciuszko Bridge and the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, both of which used design-build.
New York has increasingly used the delivery method on these and other state-funded projects like the $1 billion Javits Convention Center expansion and the $3 billion Pennsylvania Station renovation, both of which are underway and are using design–build.
Earlier this year, Cuomo proposed budget legislation that would permit a wider use of design-build throughout the state, with the exception of New York City, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio pushing for its expansion there as well.
Some opponents of design-build have argued that the delivery method isn't compatible with union project labor agreements and claim that city engineers could lose their jobs if design-build came into wide use. Bryant Farland, senior vice president at Skanska USA Building, told Construction Dive in February that the resistance to design-build could also be about a loss of control on the part of the city's agencies.
- Curbed New York Plans to fast-track the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway's makeover hit a snag
- Crain's New York Business Albany's 'no' on design-build leaves BQE rehab in limbo
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter