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New DOT site will keep streets smooth: Bloomy

New DOT site will keep streets smooth: Bloomy
Department of Transportation workers demonstrate the street repaving process along Skillman Avenue in Woodside.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced on a torn-up avenue in Woodside Monday that their new program, Street Works Manual, would prevent recently repaved streets from being dug up months later for utility upgrades.

“We’re going to fix something that has aggravated New Yorkers for years and for good reason,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor spoke about the program on Skillman Avenue between 50th and 51st streets in Woodside, where he was applauded by area business owners and customers. Bloomberg said Skillman was due to be repaved in September, but the DOT learned through the new program that electric utility Con Edison was planning an upgrade for a store shortly after.

In the past, these separate projects could have led to the street being torn up again, but thanks to the new online system the schedules were changed so the projects could be done together.

“No one wants these roads ripped up again for a very long time,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who joined Bloomberg at the conference.

Sadik-Khan said that under Street Works the DOT will share schedules for capital projects, excavation permits and resurfacing. Utility companies will share their project schedules as well. The online system will be bolstered by quarterly meetings between the city and the utilities on all the work they are planning.

“We’re confident our cooperation will result in better coordination and better streets,” Sadik-Khan said.

In addition, after a street is paved it becomes a “Protected Street” for the next five years, meaning it will require a larger permitting fee and stricter requirements to restore the street. Fines for unauthorized street work will be increased to $1,500, nearly double from what they were previously, and $1,800 for unauthorized work on a protected street.

Ken Daley, the New York president of National Grid, said Street Works Manual would allow the company to keep costs down and support growth.

John Banks, the Con Ed vice president for government relations, also spoke of the improvements the utility would make to its business.

“We think we do a pretty good job now, but we can always do better,” Banks said.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said he is often critical of Con Ed but was glad to celebrate with the utility, saying it and National Grid had done something to benefit all New Yorkers. He also praised Bloomberg for the system.

“Your administration has excelled at finding common sense solutions that have plagued New Yorkers for years,” the senator said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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