NYC Update

Halmar Awarded $382M Design-Build Contract For Metro-North Park Avenue Viaduct Project

NEW YORK—The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Dec. 21 that the MTA Construction & Development (C&D) will award a $382-million Design-Build contract to begin reconstruction efforts on the Park Avenue Viaduct in East Harlem.

The contract, was awarded to Halmar International LCC of Nanuetm, NY following MTA Board approval. The contract represents the first phase of a long-term project. All Metro-North Railroad trains traveling along the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines must utilize the Park Avenue Viaduct to access Grand Central Terminal, totaling 98% of all Metro-North trains. The mile and a quarter stretch encompasses four Metro-North tracks between 110th Street and the Harlem River Lift Bridge. 

This project will replace major segments of the elevated steel structure, nearly half of which was first constructed in 1893, to ensure a state of good repair. The work will include replacing existing structures, tracks, power, communications, and the signal system from the north side of East 115th Street to the south side of East 123rd Street. The project is expected to reduce local noise and vibration levels compared to those from the existing viaduct by utilizing modern design and materials. 

As a part of the project, MTA will enter into a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Vicinity, its participating affiliated Local Unions and their members (BCTC). The agreement—representing the first PLA since the creation of C&D—is a commitment to working with union partners to improve labor efficiency and reduce costs on capital projects without compromising worker pay or safety. Cost savings are expected through improved work rules—such as unified holidays, 40-hour work weeks, flexible start times, and maximum use of apprenticeships—as well as enabling health insurance reforms that provide better treatment of workplace injuries and reduce lost time.

“Hundreds of trains carrying thousands of customers cross the viaduct every day,” said Metro-North Railroad President and Long Island Rail Road Interim President Catherine Rinaldi. “This multi-million investment in repairing and rehabilitating the Park Avenue Viaduct is essential to the future of Metro-North and to the riders who depend on it.”

“Replacing the Park Avenue Viaduct is essential to Metro-North and the region and C&D is proud to be using innovative new tools to deliver it efficiently and effectively,” said MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “Through MTA C&D’s first Project Labor Agreement, we’ve developed a partnership with labor that will benefit all parties, improve labor efficiency, lower long-term costs, and provide meaningful pathways into union jobs for local residents. Thank you to the Building and Construction Trade Council of Greater New York and Vicinity, and the participating affiliated local unions; we look forward to getting the job done together.”

As part of the PLA, the MTA and BCTC are also working together to provide meaningful training and job opportunities for the local residents of Harlem. With partners in the Apprenticeship Readiness Collective, the MTA and BCTC commit to providing pre-apprenticeship training for Harlem residents that have real pathways into union jobs created by the construction of the project.

“As New York continues its economic bounce back, regular investment into critical development projects, like the Park Avenue Viaduct, that not only improve and modernize our city’s infrastructure, but also create thousands of good-paying union jobs for our working-class people is crucial,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The MTA should be commended for maintaining their commitment to providing our tradesmen and tradeswomen sustainable career opportunities through a Project Labor Agreement, along with their continued support of workforce development in our local neighborhoods. We, along with the Apprenticeship Readiness Collective, look forward to training and providing a highly skilled workforce to drive forward this important infrastructure upgrade, and creating an accessible path to the middle class for individuals from marginalized communities and diverse backgrounds via a career in the unionized construction industry.”

Study: NYC Workers Slowly Returning to Office

NEW YORK—The Partnership for New York City released a survey earlier this month of more than 140 major Manhattan office employers between Jan. 5 and Jan. 28, 2023, which showed that employees are continuing to return to the office, at least on a part-time basis.

As of late January 2023, 52% of Manhattan office workers were at their workplace on an average weekday, up from 49% in September 2022. Only 9% of employees were in the office five days a week, unchanged from September. The share of office employees that are fully remote dropped from 16% in September 2022 to 10% as of late January.

Return to office rates are approaching employers’ expected “new normal” occupancy rates of 56%.

Consistent with past surveys, 82% of employers indicated a hybrid office schedule will be their predominant policy in 2023. For employers with a hybrid model, the survey reports that 59% of employees are in the office at least three days a week.

Many employers expanded New York City headcount during the pandemic and remain committed to the city: 40% increased their New York City headcount during the pandemic and 38% maintained headcount levels; only 21% decreased headcount. About half (48%) of employers expect to increase their New York City workforce, 45% expect to maintain current headcount, and only 7% expect to reduce headcount.

While 29% of employers have reduced their real estate footprint since February 2020, 17% increased their footprint and 54% had no change. A larger share of employers (26%) expect to increase their real estate footprint over the next five years than expect to reduce it (18%); the majority (56%) expect to maintain their current footprint.


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