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Pave Baby Pave: Mayor Announces Progress On Efforts To Avoid Cutting Open Freshly Paved Streets For Utility Work

July 27, 2018

New pilot on Staten Island mandates interagency cooperation and coordination to prevent fresh asphalt being marred with so-called “street cuts”; Since 2014, DOT has repaved a record 786 lane miles on Staten Island, nearly half of the borough’s streets

STATEN ISLAND—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced progress on new efforts at coordination among City agencies and utilities to avoid “street cuts” to freshly paved streets.  

“Street cuts annoy everyone, and we want to make sure they bother people after a fresh re-paving as little as possible,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We have done more to re-pave streets across Staten Island than ever before, and now this program will help keep freshly paved streets undisturbed for longer. We look forward to continue working with Borough President Oddo on this.”

Back in May, the Mayor had announced that New York City had paved 5,000 lane-miles since 2014; under the de Blasio Administration, nearly 786 lane miles have been paved on Staten Island, nearly half of the borough’s streets.  Noting that progress, the Mayor had also acknowledged the frustration of elected leaders like Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo, who had called on the City to better counter the incidence of freshly paved streets being reopened for utility work.

“I freely admit that I drive Staten Island at times solely to look for street cuts,” said Borough President Jimmy Oddo. “This is how obsessive I have become over this issue. Why? For several reasons. They are literally undercutting one of the best things Mayor de Blasio has done during his tenure – our “Pave, Baby, Pave” campaign of historic levels of resurfacing of our streets. Street cuts waste taxpayer dollars. Street cuts rob our quality of life. Streets cuts are an example of poor planning, antiquated rule making, and a lack of coordination and collaboration. We can do much better. I value the ongoing dialogue I have had with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. The proposed changes are a good start. I have other specific suggestions I want to see implemented, and clearly we have more work to do. But, we have the attention of the Mayor. We have a very capable Deputy Mayor leading the undertaking, and finally we have a genuine effort to end the street cut status quo and bring about a more appropriate process that helps ensure we have better roads for a longer period of time.”

The Mayor noted progress since that initial announcement:

Street Cuts Policy Working Group – All City capital agencies, including Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection (DEP) and Design and Construction (DDC) now meet monthly with senior representatives from utility companies to share plans and coordinate work.  This group focuses on higher-level structural issues to maintain City policy of strongly discouraging any street cuts in the first two years after a given street is repaved by DOT -- including through emerging trenchless technologies and ensuring quality restoration.

Improved DEP/DOT Coordination – The agency that paves streets and the agency that is responsible for the City’s water systems are also coordinating their work, including by:

  • As part of a new pilot program on Staten Island, DEP will coordinate inspection and repair of its manholes and catch basins with DOT’s paving schedule.  After a roadway is milled, DEP crews will use the two to three week period before repaving to inspect manholes and catch basins and make any necessary repairs.  This will significantly reduce the need for DEP to open the roadway for a non-emergency repair during the two-year protected window.
  • DEP has increased staffing, hiring seven additional supervisors to work with DOT to better coordinate restoration of City streets.

Improved DEP/DDC Coordination Around Manhole Covers – Aging and defective manhole covers are among the most challenging of issues around paving and restoring streets.  To address this challenge, DEP has procured 5 manhole restoration contracts with DDC. As part of this work, defective manhole covers and hardware will be repaired and/or replaced.  In addition, manhole covers will be raised where necessary and defective areas around manholes will be restored.  These contracts are valued at a total of $13.6 million, of which $2.75 million is dedicated to Staten Island.

Increased DDC work on Pedestrian Ramps – To increase accessibility, hundreds of sidewalk pedestrian ramps on Staten Island require construction or restoration.  DDC’s pedestrian ramp contractor in Staten Island has agreed to implement final restoration upon completion of pedestrian ramps at all locations (i.e., no temporary restoration allowed). The FY18 Pedestrian contract just bid included such requirements and we have scheduled a Pre-Award with low bidder to make sure the bidder read and understands the new requirements will be fully enforced.

Other DEP Improvements as Part of Street Cut Coordination Efforts:

  • Begin using excavation markers to quickly identify any defects in DEP street cuts. 
  • DEP will this month begin a pilot saw cutting of excavations in Staten Island for a smoother restoration of streets.
  • Maximize DEP in-house paving crews to address restorations:  DEP has allocated and maximized in-house paving crews to address restorations.

Agency Coordination with National Grid – The utility that provides most of New York City’s natural gas, has provided the City with its comprehensive multi-year capital plan, which will allow for improved coordination with all City agencies going forward.

“We certainly understand the frustration of residents who see a street, freshly paved by our Roadways team, dug up for utility work,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “The coordination efforts that we have begun, led by the Staten Island pilot inspired by Borough President Oddo, should make a big difference.”

“DEP has had many productive talks with Staten Island Borough President James Oddo on street cuts and we are looking forward to coordinating with DOT and DDC on this pilot program to better repair our infrastructure so that any necessary work minimizes the impact on newly paved roadways,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

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