Days after Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the most ambitious infrastructure plan in the state’s history, the powerful New York Building Congress honored him as an innovator with his eye on the goal.
“Many public officials have crossed our path in the Building Congress’ 95-year history, and we are confident that none of them achieved a five-year record to match Andrew Cuomo,” said Building Congress president Richard T. Anderson.
“His efforts mean jobs for design and construction throughout New York. But more importantly, the Governor and his administration are underwriting the future economy of New York.ˮ
Two days before the governorʼs State of the State address, his secretary, Bill Mulrow, announced that Cuomo’s infrastructure program will cost $100 billion, making it one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in the state’s history.
“This is a very big program, so big that you almost forget we’re still doing the Tappan Zee Bridge,” he said, referring to the $3.9 billion initiative to replace the bridge, which runs along the Hudson River to connect Westchester and Rockland.
The plan, which Mulrow described as the “largest development in New York since Robert Moses,” includes the renovation of Pennsylvania Station and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
The ambitious program, which revives infrastructure projects that have stalled for years, reiterates Cuomo’s focus on infrastructure. Previously, he announced a plan to overhaul La Guardia Airport in Queens. The first phase of the plan alone is estimated to cost $4 billion.
With the scale of the projects came questions in terms of funding. Similar to the Tappan Zee and La Guardia initiatives, it is not clear how the state is going to pay for its new $100 billion infrastructure program. In his speech, the closest Mulrow got to providing specifics in terms of funding sources related to public private partnerships.
“We’re going to use private-public partnerships. We’re going to do design-build contracting. It’s going to be community-involved like we’ve never done before,” he said.
In spite of its ambiguity in terms of its funding sources, the Cuomo administration is certain of the program’s economic impact. “We’re going to create over 250,000 jobs doing something that the government should be doing and improving its infrastructure at the same time,” Mulrow said.
If Mulrow’s numbers turn out to be correct, the infrastructure program will dwarf the job creation numbers from some of the biggest projects in the state. The Hudson Yards project, for instance, has so far generated 7,500 construction jobs.
Mulrow, who gave the speech while accepting the Innovator Award for the governor during a Building Congress event, said that the Cuomo administration is “100 percent committed” to the initiative.
“It’s a big, bold vision; something that the governor is 100 percent committed to. He knows that it’s important for the next phase of what New York has to do,” he said.
During the luncheon, the Building Congress released a new report called “Building Innovation,” with a call for changes in the way government does business and proposing steps to create efficiency and reduce costs
President Anderson said, “We are pleased to say that Governor Cuomo is already showing the way with the new Tappan Zee Bridge project and its highly effective use of design-build; a new LaGuardia Airport, which is being built with one of the nation’s largest public-private partnerships; his far-reaching capital programs for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation; a new Gateway Tunnel Project in cooperation with Amtrak and the State of New Jersey; and the proposal to transform Penn Station and Moynihan Station into a world class transportation hub.”
The Building Innovation report highlights the initial work and recommendations by the Task Force on Innovation and Best Practices spearheaded by Thornton-Tomasetti chairman and CEO Thomas Scarangello, who made innovation in construction the centerpiece of his term as NYBC chairman.
Scarangello said, “This report … shines a light on just some of the opportunities for productive change that can raise the bar while also setting benchmarks that are feasible and attainable. It is an initial step toward elevating innovation and best practices in the New York City building community.”