De Blasio Restarts $17B in Public Construction Projects in New York

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday morning that he was restarting construction work on $17 billion worth of public projects that have been on hold during the pandemic, including affordable housing, streetscape improvements, schools, parks and sewer upgrades. 

The construction industry is likely breathing a sigh of relief at the announcement, which will put architects, engineers, contractors and construction workers — particularly those in the unionized trades — back to work on public projects throughout the city. 

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“Lots of communities are still experiencing overcrowding in schools, so we have to get back to work building more school capacity,” de Blasio said during his morning press conference. “We need to get back to work building and preserving affordable housing.”

Lorraine Grillo, CEO of the New York City School Construction Authority and commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, will oversee the construction restart in her new role as the city’s “recovery czar.”

She said during this morning’s briefing that she knew “firsthand how devastating this pandemic has been to so many architects, engineers, construction professionals and MWBE contractors. This is going to give them an opportunity to get back to work and rehire staff.” 

The city will restart work on more than 1,700 projects by the end of March, she said, including wastewater and sewer upgrades, park construction and Vision Zero efforts for safer streets. Planning and procurement for city projects will kick off again as well, bringing more certainty to architects and engineers who have been stuck in limbo since the city suspended public design contracts last April.