Sunday, June 11, 2023

Despite hazardous air quality, ESCR work continued this past Wednesday afternoon

Photos and video by Marcella Durand

This past Wednesday afternoon, as smoke from wildfires in eastern Canada settled over NYC and the rest of the Northeast, the Air Quality Index here reached 484 — the worst in city history and the world on that day.

Despite the level that officials labeled as "hazardous," work continued on the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project in East River Park... with the machinery's black smoke mixing into the yellow-orange haze...


The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) eventually shut down the site later in the day.

"Health and safety is the number one priority to the DDC. Due to the Canadian wildfire smoke effects in the area, DDC has halted late work shifts for [June 7] and suspended work for [June 8]. The City will monitor the conditions as the week progresses," the community construction liaison told a concerned nearby resident after 5 p.m.

An ESCR fact sheet on air quality monitoring (PDF here) states there is an Action Level for air pollution and that "[i]f it is determined that the construction is not meeting the standards set by oversight agencies, work will be halted and further assessed to assure protection to residents and park users."

ESCR watchers said that this "could be interpreted as only taking action if the construction itself causes the air pollution" and not necessarily from, say, wildfires. 

Meanwhile, ICYMI: The DDC has pushed back the timetable for completing vital elements of the project. Officials revealed the new schedule during an East Side Coastal Resiliency Community Advisory Group meeting on May 25. (A video of the meeting is here.) 

According to the presentation (deck here), officials moved the work's completion date south of Grand Street from this summer to June 2024... while work between Grand and Stanton changed from 2024 to early 2025.

As Hellgate reported in its coverage of the meeting: 
DDC staffers explained that the delay on these sections, which are currently closed off to the public, is due to a reallocation of construction efforts to the large section south of Houston Street, where massive floodwater conveyance systems are now being buried underground. Soon, they say, they'll begin to infill the land in that section, and raise the park between eight and ten feet, before reconstructing it entirely.
Despite the delays, officials said they'll still hit their end-of-2026 completion date.

The "phased work operations" began in November 2021 in Project Area 1 between Montgomery Street and 15th Street.

Workers have been burying the 57.5-acre park under fill, cutting down trees and elevating the land by 8-to-10 feet above sea level to protect the area from future storm surges. The city has said they will maintain public access to at least 42% of the park throughout construction. 

Residents still have access to the park via the FDR overpasses on 10th Street and Sixth Street and the north ramp at Houston.  

1 comment:

jack said...

I'm skeptical about 2026. Are there penalties and bonuses built into the contract? I doubt that given the political nature of the whole deal.

Was there any other compensation for the surrounding neighborhoods besides Carlina getting us a bike lane? (more than one bike lane?)

So the climate change resiliency project designed specifically to not impede the flow of a highway is shut down by a climate change related event. It was odd at the time discussing the fait accompli decision with old hippies attending Extinction Rebellion demonstrations and watching them rationally defend the FDR drive and civic auto supremacy. Advocating against the slow motion end of the world is all fine and good until you can't find a parking space.