City Agencies Announce Water Supply Improvements and Traffic Redesigns Along Ninth Avenue in Midtown

A diagram of the Ninth Avenue redesign. Image Credit: DDC.

On March 21, 2023, elected officials and agency officials from the Department of Design and Construction, Transportation, and Environmental Protection announced the completion of a $231 million upgrade in the water distribution system and road reconstruction along Ninth Avenue, one of Midtown’s major corridors. The investment also included safety improvements and street redesign enhancements to reclaim more space for pedestrians and decrease congestion.

Ninth Avenue is a Vision Zero Priority Corridor. Vision Zero identifies communities, corridors, and intersections where fatalities and serious injuries occur, and dedicates the necessary resources to those areas. Ninth Avenue is in Hell’s Kitchen, a highly populated commercial district. It is also popular with cyclists because it is on a major southbound route.

The upgrades to the water system took place from 2012 to 2017. The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began the project jointly. DDC is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. It provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers, and water mains in all five boroughs. DDC also partners with other city agencies, architects, and consultants to bring efficient, innovative and environmentally conscious design and construction strategies to City projects.

Together, DDC and DEP made connections at four sites in Manhattan to the City’s Third Water Tunnel. After that DEP added more water work to the project along 9th Avenue. Then, the Department of Transportation worked with DDC to complete a full roadway construction and street redesign that provides a host of benefits to the corridor, including the installation of expanded sidewalks that reduce pedestrian congestion and shorten pedestrian crossings updated intersection treatment for cyclists, and new commercial loading zones. As part of the project, DEP and DDC installed 18,000 feet of large steel trunk water mains and 51,000 feet of regular ductile iron water mains. Some of the water mains that were replaced had been installed over a century ago. While the streets were open, 5,000 feet of sewers along with catch basins were replaced. As part of the final street restoration, 650,000 square feet of roadway along with curbs and sidewalks were reconstructed.

Part of the plan also includes expanding sidewalks on Ninth Avenue as part of Midtown’s “super sidewalks” effort, an initiative to provide more space for pedestrians and address sidewalk congestion. “Super Sidewalks” is part of a newer strategy to use public space adequately, and support safe, sustainable, and efficient transportation options, according to city officials.

The upgrade also included plans for future enhancements, including similar upgrades between West 30th and 34th streets. Pedestrian safety treatment in coordination with the Moynihan Station Redevelopment will also be added.

DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala stated, “This $231 million investment represents a significant upgrade of Manhattan’s water distribution system, which means a continued reliable supply of the champagne of tap water for residents and businesses.”

DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley stated, “This massive undertaking is much more than meets the eye and installed 48-inch steel trunk mains through some of the most crowded parts of Manhattan while connecting neighborhoods to DEP’s new Third Water Tunnel. DDC’s In-House Design Team did a remarkable job here so that water supply improvements and street redesign could come together in one comprehensive rebuild of the area’s infrastructure.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler stated,  “Today’s opening of the new ‘super sidewalk’ with additional traffic calming measures along Ninth Avenue brings us closer to achieving a Vision Zero future in New York. When we reconfigure our streets to prioritize safety over speed, we can save lives while making our pedestrian spaces more welcoming for residents and visitors alike. I look forward to my continued partnership with the City to reclaim our public spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists to make our streets safer for all.”

By: Jessica Kovac (Jessica is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)



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