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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Inside the Bronx's Biggest Construction Project

[UPDATED, Monday, April 19] This is Bernard Daly, the man who has managed the building of the Croton Water Filtration Plant for the city's Department of Environmental Protection since day one. This morning, Daly took me and some other media folks on a tour of this massive $3 billion undertaking.

Yes, the project is vastly over budget and hasn't delivered Bronxites with the amount of jobs promised to them when the city pitched the community the plan to take over a huge chunk of Van Cortlandt Park and use it for a water filtration plant. But this tour was designed to show people what they're getting for that $3 billion, which will be paid for through a 12.9% hike in water rates this year and probably near that amount in the years to come.

Daly -- pictured standing in a pipe that will one day pump clean, filtered water into city homes -- says the project is about 60% complete and should be done sometime in 2012.

I took some video, which we'll try to get up in the next few days and we'll have more details in next week's edition of the Norwood News. But my first impressions are that this an enormous and incredibly complex project. In fact, it's the biggest municipal construction project in New York City history [Update: I guess I was wrong about this, but the contract awarded to Skanska for the actual construction of the plant is the biggest single contract the city has awarded, according to Daly.] . There are somewhere between 1,300 and 1,400 workers on site every day. Sand Hogs, carpenters, electricians, crane operators, masons, steel workers, safety guys, security, spotters. Really, it's impressive, which I think was the point of the tour.

This project has been criticized before it even began and has been plagued by missteps and miscalculations that have enraged the surrounding communities and the activist watchdogs holding the DEP's feet to the fire.

But in the end, Daly -- a relentlessly enthusiastic and energetic man who obviously loves his job (the guy relishes the monthly DEP community meetings, which other DEP officials have treated like trips to the dentist) -- remains optimistic about how it will be received by the community. "I think people are really going to appreciate it," he told me. We'll see. Click on the "read more" for more photos inside, outside and on top of this behemoth.

 An aerial shot of what the site looks like today:

Here's the pump station, where water will go in and out:

The Sand Hogs, the guys doing the dirty work in the tunnels:

Here's the top of the plant, where the golf course driving range will be:

Here's a shot I took from the "man cage," where we were lifted high above the site:

Here's some of the inner-workings in the depths of the plant:

And just to give you an idea of how busy it is on this site:


  1. Interesting story, I like construction and find it generally interesting. What would be interesting to know. Back when this was being pitched by the city and DEP for this location what were the promised jobs created and what have been the actual. The neighborhood liason should have the numbers on this. What are the number of sponsored local workers entering unions. What companies sponsored local hires and how many. Only by having real such information can people, this comunity react in a real way when some other disruptive infrastructure project gets proposed in the neighborhood. What are the ongoing community improvments in the area linked to this project. Is this neighborhood getting what was promised. Thanks for the article.

  2. The filtration plant certainly is a massive project. I don't think it is "the biggest municipal construction project in New York City history." Perhaps it is the largest contract, or single project phase?

    The Third Water Tunnel, which already carved its own hole elsewhere in Van Cortlandt Park, is a much larger project:

  3. dear anonymous... thursday evening 4/15 is this month's FMC meeting. it is 7pm right across the street from the plant. if you are really serious about wanting to know the answers to your questions you'll come to the meeting and see for yourself what an unabashed scam this entire $3 billion project is.

    the jobs aren't there, the environment has been permanently spoiled, the DEP has lied on just about every aspect of this project, they have wasted precious land and money, and any thorough intelligent analysis of what has been done here will demonstrate that in spades.

    there is not enough space here to list all the false promises and all the lies that have gone into this abhorrent destructive monstrosity.

    if you REALLY want to know the truth, send me an email at bronxtalk@hotmail.com and i'll be glad to enlighten you.

  4. and let me add... have you noticed the historic double-digit increases in NYC water bills the last three years? and you're about to get another huge increase, too.

    you think the $2 billion cost overruns and the $240 million of "free" park funding was paid for by magic? no, my friend, we're paying for this insanity.

    and all the secret promo visits for selected media won't make this most horrible of bloomberg wrongs right. of course it's a big construction feat... this entire project was created in public parkland to benefit the engineering and trucking community. that was the ENTIRE objective.

    don't get snookered. learn the facts.

  5. Jay: on it being the "biggest municipal project in NYC history," that what I was told by a few different people, including DEP officials. But I'm not sure by what measure. I'll look into that.

  6. alex... i want to comment on your evaluation of this monstrosity as being "imopressive". had they worked within a budget, minimized the environmental impact, and used the latest technology to maximize efficiency rather than use technology left over from the last generation that is definitively inferior... THAT would have been impressive.

    But this? this is an embarrassment and an abomination that flies in the face of science and good government. for sure, it is most certainly NOT a department protecting the environment. and if you report in the Norwood News that it is "impressive" you will have fallen into the trap of being a tool for their propaganda. tell it like it is, alex, not like they want you to tell it. there are enough facts all around you to refute practically every contention they make. and if you can't find them, i'll be happy to provide them.

  7. Jay, see the update. According to Daly, who's worked on city projects since 1985, the Skanska contract for the building of the plant is biggest single contract in city history. So, good call on that one.

  8. Thanks for the update and clarification Alex.


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