On Thursday April 6, 2017, the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School hosted the 141st CityLaw Breakfast. The event speakers were MTA Capital Construction Company President Michael Horodniceanu and Rick Cotton, Special Counsel to Governor Cuomo for Interagency Initiatives. Horodniceanu and Cotton were welcomed and introduced by Ross Sandler, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for New York City Law.
The topic of Horodniceanu’s discussion was “Building Mega-Projects: Lessons from the Second Avenue Subway.” Horodniceanu explained to the crowd that a major challenge for the MTA in the construction of the subway was that there was no way to know where the utility lines were underground. He noted that over the decades, new infrastructure in New York City has been layered over older infrastructure providing a mystery of what lay underfoot.
Horodniceanu went on to explain the difficulties of developing mega-projects such as the Second Avenue Subway in concentrated public areas when during construction current pedestrian and vehicular traffic must be maintained and continued. He cautioned that monitoring and surveying is a must when building, and maintaining some flexibility is paramount. A plan is important to have on day one, but realize that the plan will change.
Horodniceanu completed his remarks with a final takeaway from the Second Avenue Subway. Accountability is important in mega-projects, being truthful and establishing trust with outreach like community workshops. Horodniceanu said he spent 73 Saturdays out in the community and it was the best investment he made.
Rick Cotton, Cuomo’s Special Counsel for Interagency Initiatives, spoke after Horodniceanu. Cotton began by noting that the words “speed” and “government” don’t go together because regulatory approvals and review need to occur. Cotton argued that big organizations struggle with quick decision-making and that there needs to be the right framework for projects. Cotton went on to note that a year and a half ago there was a zero chance that the 2nd Avenue subway would be completed by December 2016.
Horodniceanu and Cotton finished the event by taking questions from the capacity crowd.
If you want to download a copy of Michael Horodniceanu’s PowerPoint presentation as a PDF, please click: here.
To watch a recording of the event, click here or click the video below.