Dec
08

A hearing for 2nd Ave. businesses, but what response?

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Since construction fences, noise and debris descended upon Second Ave. in mid-2007, businesses along the future subway route have struggled to survive. Fewer Upper East Siders are walking the work-clogged strip and restaurants who have had to sacrifice their outdoor cafes due to lost sidewalk space have seen revenues drop precipitously. Business owners have routinely asked for state or MTA hand-outs, but these requests have been met with a resounding no.

Last week, the Second Ave. Business Association again went hat-in-hand to the New York Senate, Dan Rivoli reported in Our Town. During a hearing on the status of the Second Ave. Subway construction, Joe Pecora asked for two intertwined things: “Promote foot traffic that has gone down 50 percent. Make Second Avenue a sales tax-free zone.” In the past, the Senate had failed to act on a grant fund or a property tax abatement, and the city has not responded to these requests either.

For its part, the MTA vowed again to make sure its work site is cleaned up. The authority will ensure that garbage isn’t left to rot — and breed rats — overnight, and capital construction has engaged in an effort to beautify the construction area. They are considering a call to minimize the number of empty construction containers left in front of storefronts as well. Yet, from politicians and from the MTA the message was the same: There’s only so much they can do, and the business disruptions are just the cost of constructing a subway line that will lead to a neighborhood boom when it’s completed. “Our options,” City Councilman Dan Garodnick said, “are limited.”



One Response to “A hearing for 2nd Ave. businesses, but what response?”

  1. Ben says:

    I’ve walked the entire site (above ground) a few times. Some of the contractors have shown great desire and have made significant improvements to make Second Avenue liveable and others just don’t get it, yet.

    The hands down winner right now is J. D’Annunzio & Sons, Inc. for the work it’s doing around at the 86th Street Station site. The construction zone footprint on the part of Second Avenue it’s responsible for has been reduced by about 30% by limiting construction fencing on Second Avenue where only work is being performed (except for one block between 85th ST and 84th ST, that’s being used primarily for parking, and which probably still could be eliminated). Also, the work within its zone is being done in a way the other contractors haven’t figured out to do, yet. Significant crews and machinery opened up the largest section yet of Second Avenue for utility rerouting all at once, instead of bit by bit. The pace of work is daily and significant. The center construction zone between 86th and 87th is a huge improvement for pedestrians — and for smooth traffic flow. New street lights, traffic signals and signage all contribute. Someone has been thinking.

    Second Place goes to S3 I’ve walked the entire site (above ground) a few times. Some of the contractors have shown great desire and have made significant improvements to make Second Avenue liveable and others just don’t get it, yet.

    The hands down winner right now is J. D’Annunzio & Sons, Inc. for the work it’s doing around at the 86th Street Station site. The construction zone footprint on the part of Second Avenue it’s responsible for has been reduced by about 30% by limiting construction fencing on Second Avenue where only work is being performed (except for one block between 85th ST and 84th ST, that’s being used primarily for parking, and which probably still could be eliminated). Also, the work within its zone is being done in a way the other contractors haven’t figured out to do, yet. Significant crews and machinery opened up the largest section yet of Second Avenue for utility rerouting all at once, instead of bit by bit. The pace of work is daily and significant. The center construction zone between 86th and 87th is a huge improvement for pedestrians — and for smooth traffic flow. New street lights, traffic signals and signage all contribute. Someone has been thinking.

    Second Place goes to S3 Tunnel Contractors (aka Skanska) for its work around the Launch Box, and MorePath deserves a lot of the credit. The construction fencing footprint between 91st and 92nd has been reduced by 50%, and could be reduced further by eliminating a storage shed (it would be easy to move it to a side street). The biggest improvement is to pedestrian safety with wider sidwalks and crosswalks within the zone protected by barriers. Also, the entrance for trucks into the zone, so they more enter from the traffic lanes rather than through the crosswalks. An attempt to improve aesthetics with clean and uniform fencing and a uniform paint scheme for storage sheds is improvement. Yet, most of the fencing and gear above 93rd Street, within the S3 zone could be entirely eliminated. A large crane and other equipment sit unused for months. Almost everything could be moved away with completely no effect on construction, and a significant improvement to the neighborhood.

    Third place goes to E.E. Cruz and Tully Construction Co for it work at the 96th Street Station Site. It’s still a mess, but less so, there’s been a cursory attempt to clean up its site. The pace of work has improved, but open holes remain open for too long (months).

    Last Place goes to SSK Constructors Joint Venture (also Skanska) for the work around the 72nd Station Site. This is the worst of the worst, the type of hell that got this project into schedule, budget and neighborhood problems. Unnecessarily large construction zone footprint, limited amount of work being done. One part of the zone is busy, the rest is strewn with equipment and nothing is happening, poor pedestrian and vehicular site lines. Heavy equipment crossing with little regard to pedestrians and traffic. While J. D’Annunzio & Sons has learned its lesson and adopted a neighborhood friendly approach, SSK Constructors Joint Venture at the 72nd Street site is indifferent to the neighborhood, and by it’s indifference has created a hostile and dangerous environment. There’s obviously no need for this. It can reduce its footprint as the other contractors have done, provide better pedestrian and traffic control, etc.

    And finally, what’s the traffic island doing in the middle at the 79th Street Crossing. It appears to be only storage and mostly old unused signage.

    I’m going into the details here, because the MTA and some of the contractors are actually making the SAS construction a better place to work and live. Almost all the pain that has been created for the neighborhoods has been completely unnecessary, as J. D’Annunzio & Sons, Inc has shown by its excellent example.

    My thinking is that the MTA should in the future consider the track record of a contractor, not just its talk, in how it maintains public safety and reduces impact on a neighborhood it’s working on. Of course, the MTA benefits — projects will get done faster, better and with fewer headaches.

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