Vision 1 Goal

Infrastructure Planning & Management


New York City has one of the largest and most complex infrastructure systems in the world. It is the bedrock of our regional economy and the product of remarkable foresight and ingenuity. The age and density of the city make it notoriously difficult and expensive to maintain this infrastructure, which is further strained by unprecedented population and economic growth. For these reasons, OneNYC highlighted the need for the City to continuously improve its tools, methods, and processes for delivering projects faster and more economically, and to prioritize investments that meet a high standard of social, economic, and environmental criteria.

Using innovative methods to reduce cost and neighborhood disruption

An innovative process to revive older infrastructure is being used by the New York City Departments of Design and Construction (DDC) and Environmental Protection (DEP) as the City seeks to improve the water distribution system in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The method, known as “slip lining,” threads new water mains through existing underground pipes with the use of adjustable sliders, saving time and money and minimizing disruption to neighborhood streets.  The $42 million project spans 16 blocks along Leonard Street, lining the existing 72-inch trunk water main, originally installed in 1894, ensuring its continued use for decades to come. The process will save an estimated $4 million and expedite the project’s completion by approximately one year.

Secured new sources of infrastructure funding tied to development

The City Planning Commission and the City Council approved the rezoning plan for Greater East Midtown in August 2017. The plan will foster development of new, modern office buildings needed to spur jobs in the city’s core central business district and keep New York a global capital of commerce. The plan ties growth directly to improvements in the district’s public transit and public space, so as new buildings rise, New Yorkers will see major investments in subway stations, less congested sidewalks, and expansive plazas for office workers and visitors. The initiative is projected to generate up to 28,000 new permanent jobs and 23,000 construction jobs over the next two decades. The East Midtown Public Realm Improvement Governing Group approved its first allocation of funds, approving a new pedestrian plaza at Pershing Square East between 41st and 42nd Streets. The Governing Group also funded security infrastructure for the planned shared street on East 43rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues, which will provide a transformed experience for pedestrians traveling to and from Grand Central Terminal.

As part of the East Midtown rezoning, the City committed to fund $50 million worth of early action public realm improvements. This included $12 million for the East 43rd Street shared street capital buildout and interim treatments at three additional locations, including a refresh of the Pershing Square East pedestrian plaza, and traffic and pedestrian improvements along Park Avenue and East 53rd Street. In addition, $38 million was committed as seed money for projects selected by the Governing Group, which allocated $21 million for improvements in Pershing Square East and along East 43rd Street in February 2018.

Acquired ability to use design-build method to speed up construction projects, including NYCHA repairs

Design-build is widely recognized as an advantageous method for delivering capital projects by reducing costs and accelerating construction schedules. While traditional contracts require separate procurement processes for design and construction, design-build allows one entity to draft both the project blueprints and build the project to completion. New York State presides over the laws and regulations governing public construction, and, in 2011, authorized limited use of design-build contracting for certain state agencies and authorities. In 2018, the City successfully lobbied the state legislature for authority to use design-build for NYCHA repairs, rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and the construction of new, modern jail facilities to replace Rikers Island. Combined with other recent reforms, design-build authority will help shave 18 to 24 months off the schedule for priority NYCHA projects, including the replacement of 63 poorly-rated boilers.

Created Front-End Planning unit to improve delivery of capital design and construction projects

DDC has made significant progress improving its project delivery. Even with nearly 1,000 active projects valued at approximately $14 billion, DDC is processing a record number of payments and change orders faster than ever and reducing the timeline for scheduling bids. One of the most transformative reforms was last year’s creation of a Front-End Planning unit to work with client agencies on project scope, schedule, cost estimates, and risk assessments before the formal commencement of capital projects, to ensure that the scope of work and budget meet necessary requirements. By dedicating more resources to projects prior to initiation and working in lockstep with client agencies, project delays and cost overruns will be reduced over time.