Uday Durg has been working to build the Transit Center since 2002
Unlike other major mass-transit projects like World Trade Center Transportation Hub or South Ferry Terminal, construction of the Fulton Street Transit Center occurs around four active subway platforms while nine train lines run 24 hours a day.
But for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital construction team, managing heavy ridership during major construction projects is inherent in the building process. Already the Transit Center team has deconstructed one-quarter of a city block, excavated 50 feet below the street, underpinned a landmarked building, and demolished approximately a half-miles worth of interior ramps -- all while millions of weekly subway riders swarm the station.
Uday Durg, P.E., is the MTA's program executive for Lower Manhattan projects. A highly trained engineer with more than 20 years experience at the MTA, Mr. Durg oversees all design and construction of the $1.4 billion Transit Center. He wrapped up the same work on the new $530 million South Ferry Terminal last spring, a mega project that was completed in less than five years, even though a 400-year-old Battery fort wall was discovered in the middle of mass excavation.
At the Transit Center, Mr. Durg has seen designs evolve as budgets changed and the construction market constricted. In 2008, MTA Capital Construction, led by President Michael Horodniceanu, divided the Transit Centers many construction components into separate contracts -- a plan that has helped keep costs down, balance labor needs, and maintain constant building.
Familiar and esteemed among the Lower Manhattan community, Mr. Durg and his team are proving that massive construction work in one of New Yorks single busiest areas can be a source of optimism, rather than an interference. We asked Mr. Durg three questions about how he manages the complexities of Transit Center construction, and what he enjoys most about it.
Whats it like running a project that has multiple contracts that are being executed simultaneously?
Mr. Durg: The biggest challenge is coordinating all of the active work on the various contracts. Theres so much to focus on in terms of delivery of materials and in terms of labor on the job site -- and it all has to be coordinated. Getting materials in and out of Lower Manhattan can be very difficult and because this is closely tied to productivity, it has to be carefully planned so that the materials arrive when we need them to.
Ive also got to worry about all the people that flow through this area on a daily basis. The job is right on Broadway and over 300,000 riders come through this complex every day. We are doing all this heavy, civil engineering and construction while maintaining service on the 4/5 -- one of the most crowded lines in the system -- plus the A/C line. In addition, we sometimes have more than 100 workers here a day, plus a lot of weekend work -- all the work on the A/C platform is on the weekends. So clearly, the safety of the public and our workers is one of our top priorities.
Right now I have three contractors working simultaneously: Judlau, Skanska, and WDF. Theyre each performing a lot of work at the same time, which means we have a significant amount of material that has to be brought in and hauled out. But in the job site, there havent been conflicts yet in terms of the space. It has a lot to do with the way the packages were put together. They need each other to complete their contracts, and theyre all in the same business and respect each other.
Another major challenge is already completed: The critical underpinning of the Corbin Building is done. That is one of the significant achievements in the last couple of months, because its a historic building, built in 1879, and we proceeded with this work deliberately and carefully to minimize any settlement. But now weve passed that critical stage. The building is underpinned.
How have the changes inside the station affected riders?
We have closed all the ramps on the east and west sides of the A/C platform, and all the ramps have now been deconstructed. Weve put temporary stairs in at both ends of the platform, and although it took a few weeks for riders to adjust, the temporary stairs work well because the transfer is right there. Before, riders had to travel these switchback ramps. Now they go to the end of the platform, and the transfer is easier. Its forecasting the simplicity of the future Transit Center. Once you have a direct orientation, the travel time gets reduced.
What will be your favorite part of the new Transit Center when its done?
When its done, that will be my favorite part! I've been working since 2002 on this job. Its been a challenge in terms of getting all the designs completed. Getting all the stakeholders informed. Making sure that logistically everything works properly, making sure the community is satisfied.
Part of that challenge has been learning how to build complex projects in the urban environment. That is going to be something I learned from this project. Theres so much to think about on a complicated job like this: You have to deal with the level of the water table, with site logistics, with so many utilities, with underpinning of buildings, with local businesses, with people, transfersall the things that have gone into this project, I will take from it and learn.
Working in a busy urban environment is a challenge -- yet its part of the total experience. It is very complex in its nature, and it brings so many things together in terms of its complexities. It is something Ill never forget.