City urged to accelerate timeline for 13-year Arthur Kill Road widening project
STATEN ISLAND, NY — The city has been asked to fast-track a long-awaited road improvement project that is slated for completion more than a dozen years after it was initially funded.
Earlier this month, Borough President Vito Fossella hosted a site meeting with various city agencies involved in a project to widen and improve a 1.5-mile stretch of Arthur Kill Road, from Richmond Avenue to Clarke Avenue.
The $15 million project was funded by former mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015, but city officials said that due to several complicating factors, work is not expected to be completed until 2028, or 13 years after their first funding.
Local elected officials, led by former borough president James Oddo and former city councilor Vincent Ignizio, had been advocating for the project for more than a decade.
“It’s hard to understand how a capital project along a 1.5 mile stretch of road can take 13 years,” Fossella said. “We found this duration unacceptable, so we contacted the lead agency, the New York City Department of Design and Construction. [DDC]to organize this field visit.
The site meeting included representatives from the DDC, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Transportation (DOT), and City Parks Department, all of whom are working together on the project.
Despite requests for an accelerated schedule, the borough president said he was told the project was still in the design phase, where it is expected to remain until 2024, with construction expected to begin in 2025 and be completed in 2028.
“My goal is to improve the quality of life for voters and residents of the surrounding neighborhood. We will work with the Adams administration and its agencies to ensure the project is completed safely and in a timely manner,” Fossella said. “There are several projects going on in other parts of Staten Island that are frustrating for commuters, so let’s learn from those and get this project done as quickly as possible.”
A DDC representative said the agency shared the borough president’s sense of urgency to complete the project, but stood by its estimated completion date.
“We agree with the Borough President on the need to expand and improve Arthur Kill Road as quickly and as fiscally responsible as possible, and we are coordinating closely with our partners at the city and district level. state to obtain the required approvals and complete this project,” said DDC spokeswoman Shoshana Khan.
REASONS FOR DELAYS
One thing that contributes to the length of the timeline is the project’s proximity to sensitive wetlands, which requires completion of an environmental assessment statement, a process that typically takes two years, according to the DDC.
The project also requires approval from various agencies at different levels of government, including the city’s DEP and Department of Parks, as well as the state Department of Environmental Conservation, officials said.
The DDC also worked with the DOT to review new road designs with the goal of minimizing the amount of private land the city must acquire to complete the project.
Last year, the DDC said the project had been delayed, in part due to additional work being added to the project scope after the design process began.
“There are still several factors that need to be considered before construction can begin, including a new drainage plan for the widened road, determining the location of a new storm sewer outfall at Brookfield Park and an environmental design assessment,” DDC spokesman Ian said. Michaels told Advance/SILive.com last June.
In 2018, DEP added additional storm sewer and waterworks to the project, between Richmond Avenue and Cortelyou Avenue, requiring a partial redesign and delaying the entire design process.
Additionally, the project design consultant halted all work from March to December 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, further delaying the project.
“Even in the best-case scenario, this project will have lasted the full terms of five Mid-Island and South Shore council members, three minority leaders, two borough presidents and two mayors before it ended. be finished,” said City Councilor Joseph Borelli (R-Rive-Sud), who also attended the site meeting.
“When we talk about how the city’s capital development process is broken, this project is the poster child. Borough President Fossella is absolutely right to push these agencies to fast-track this project and to continue to hold them accountable to the taxpayers who continue to pay, in more ways than one, for its delays,” he said. he adds.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
In 2019, the DDC presented initial design plans for the long-awaited project, indicating that due to the winding nature of the 1.5-mile stretch, the causeway will be redesigned into eight segments, each receiving slightly different treatments depending on existing conditions and available space.
The project will provide shared-use lanes for cyclists and pedestrians over much of the road, while installing medians to separate oncoming traffic. Utility planting strips will also be installed along much of the project area.
Click here for a section-by-section breakdown of the initial design plan.