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New York City Department of Design and Construction – MED609 project


The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) is working closely with businesses, residents, workers and others at four distinct geographical and cultural locations in Manhattan impacted by the city’s largest ongoing infrastructure project. These locations are in the Upper West Side, Theater District, Meatpacking District and Little Italy/Chinatown.

Work began last year on the $420 million MED609 trunk water main replacement project, which is centered on West 60th Street. The project involves installing trunk water mains connecting four different shafts of the city’s newly activated Water Tunnel No. 3 to the city’s water distribution network, according to DDC Associate Commissioner Tom Foley.

“This critical capital infrastructure project was designed in-house by DDC engineers and the project’s completion is necessary to ensure safe and reliable drinking water for New York’s eight million residents,” Foley adds.

A joint venture of Judlau and OHL USA is serving as the lead contractor on the project, anticipated to conclude in April 2017. Crews are installing 18,600 feet of trunk water main and 28,500 feet of distribution water main, and rehabilitating 6,400 feet of sewer lines. The pipes being installed for the project vary in diameter from the 12-inch pipe used in local connection lines to 72 inches. The majority of the pipe is 48 inches in diameter. Both steel and ductile iron pipe are being used.

Other work includes relocating and upgrading private utility lines, reconstructing curbs and sidewalks and installing new traffic signals and streetlights, the DDC says.

Staying on Track

All four water main connection points are located in high-profile and high-traffic areas including near the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Fordham University. MTA subway tunnels and several residential and commercial buildings are also located near construction. “We have to excavate and relocate existing city and private facilities to make way for new facilities, all in a dense urban environment,” Foley says.

The DDC’s traffic control plan includes maintaining travel lanes during work hours throughout the four project areas in Manhattan Signs, video cameras, pedestrian managers and traffic enforcement agents will also be on site to ensure public safety and assist vehicular and pedestrian movements. 

Much of the work near the Broadway Theater District will be performed on nights and weekends only. “We’re trying to find street space for construction activities and coordinating shut-downs and other activities with our neighbors,” Foley adds. “We have a robust community outreach program that includes appointing a full-time construction liaison, who interacts with local businesses and residents to ensure life can go on for them.”

The DDC also meets weekly with contractors and subcontractors to discuss their progress. “We meet with them to make sure there are no issues with regard to the availability of materials and to make sure they stay highly efficient,” he adds. 

Contractors are incentivized to complete the project ahead of schedule. More than $4 million worth of incentives have already been paid to keep MED609 on track. “Any delay we have on the street will cost us when it comes to the trust we’ve built in the community as well as in terms of hard costs including providing NYPD traffic enforcement agents and on-site pedestrian managers,” Foley says. “The incentives we pay now will ultimately save the city money and hardship down the road.”

Building a Metropolis

The DDC designs and oversees construction on public building and infrastructure projects throughout New York City, including libraries, museums, police precincts, health centers, day care centers, courts and correctional facilities. “Our projects can be seen in all five boroughs, from the expanded Bronx Museum of the Arts to the reconstructed Bloomingdale Park in Staten Island,” the department says.

In addition to water mains and sewer lines, the department’s infrastructure component builds new and replacement roads and sidewalks throughout the city. The DDC invests in infrastructure technologies such as microtunneling – which will be used on a portion of the MED609 project – to make its work less disruptive to the surrounding area. “As leaders in design and construction, it is our responsibility to provide New Yorkers with buildings and services that are socially responsible, progressively designed and environmentally sound,” the department says. “To do so, we employ an array of programs and projects that actively respond to the dynamic needs of our metropolis.”

The DDC’s portfolio also includes public safety projects such as the installation of more than 42,000 wheelchair-accessible sidewalk pedestrian ramps and the upgrade of more than 10,000 fire hydrants. “The foundations we build support New York City’s business and cultural success, and DDC will continue to provide high-quality civic services and solutions that enhance each of our community’s contribution to the city’s growth,” the DDC adds.