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October 12, 2017

Head of DDC Infrastructure on Better Mapping to Reduce Roadway Disruptions

Deputy Commissioner Eric Macfarlane Speaks at the Interagency Engineering Council’s Annual Conference

Crystal Santos

Rain gardenss

New York, NY – NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Deputy Commissioner for Infrastructure Eric Macfarlane, P.E., addressed the New York Interagency Engineering Council’s (NYIEC) annual conference in Manhattan today, joining leading design and construction experts in a discussion of how to better coordinate street work in order to minimize traffic and pedestrian disruptions caused by roadway construction.

Digging in City streets can be extraordinarily complicated because of the volume of underground utilities that exist in most areas,” said Macfarlane. “To work efficiently requires accurate information about what is underground, as well as a high level of coordination among City agencies, contractors, the MTA and private utility companies such as Con Edison and Verizon. With over 500 active infrastructure projects around the City, DDC has a great interest in improving this process.”

Macfarlane proposed a comprehensive infrastructure inventory map, which would be accessible to the City agencies, private corporations and public authorities that routinely need access beneath City streets, and would provide an up-to-date snapshot of where various sewers, water mains and utilities are located.

Currently each entity operates independently and, despite sharing the same public space, do not share a mapping system. According to Macfarlane, a new comprehensive mapping system would lead to better project planning, better coordination among public and private utilities, less risk of damage to utilities during construction and fewer disruptions for New Yorkers living above the streets.

A DDC project at Broadway and Worth Street
A DDC project at Broadway and Worth Street shows the density of underground infrastructure in lower Manhattan

In order to reduce project delays and disruptions to City residents, New York State in 2014 passed a law allowing DDC to manage both private and public utility infrastructure construction work through a joint bidding process. This can reduce delays caused by private utilities having to perform their work independently in the same project area, sometimes interfering with public works projects. According to Macfarlane, a new collaborative infrastructure inventory mapping platform would further reduce delays because both public and private utilities would know what other utility infrastructure is beneath the street during the project planning and design process, well before construction crews break open city streets.

Deputy Commissioner Macfarlane joined DDC when it was created in 1996, having previously worked at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Macfarlane leads DDC’s Infrastructure Division, which is responsible for the design and construction of roadways, sewers, water mains, public plazas and other capital infrastructure programs for the 26 client agencies DDC builds for.

Mr. MacFarlane holds a BS in Engineering from the City College of New York, and an MS in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York State.

DDC has been a member of the NYIEC since 1999. The Council was established in 1979 by professionals representing eight public agencies and utility companies in the New York metropolitan area with the mission of promoting common endeavors enabling member organizations to better serve the public. 

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit