Moving Forward on Transportation Infrastructure Funding

To quote the General Contractors Association, “The Time to Think about Infrastructure is while It is Still Working.” And as a new year begins, now seems to be the time to rethink new construction and repair of infrastructure of all categories.

Staten Island Projects-3-WebCrop

St. George Ferry Terminal Ramps Rehabilitation

The nation’s highways are primarily financed by the Highway Trust Fund, which obtains most of its money from a gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. This tax is not tied to the price of gas or inflation and, as a result, has lost much of its purchasing power over the years. The Obama Administration recently held an Infrastructure Investment Summit to find solutions to the infrastructure funding crisis.

While the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a $265 billion 6-year transportation bill that reauthorizes MAP-21, it still leaves a gap of $100 million between Highway Trust Fund revenues and proposed spending levels, which impacts both our mobility and economy. Continue reading

Post Sandy–Rebuilding and Resiliency

“With the immediate emergency repairs finished following Superstorm Sandy and temporary fixes in place, city and state agencies in New York and New Jersey are now focused on planning, funding and building long-term resiliency projects,” observes a supplement (August 25/September 1, 2014) to ENR New York  “The Rebuilding Continues.” The issue reports on how infrastructure and facilities are being rethought by city and state entities and will be rebuilt to withstand the force of a storm such as Sandy, and that state and local programs are “ramping up.” Continue reading

Design-Build Delivers

According to the Design-Build Institute of America (, “Design-build is an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Owners select design-build to achieve best value while meeting schedule, cost and quality goals.” The DBIA states that design-build offers 33% faster delivery speed and 6% lower overall project cost and is applied to 40% of the non-residential construction market share. Transportation is the fastest-growing design-build sector in the U.S. Continue reading

HAKS’ Bridge Inspections and Evaluations Span the Northeast


Manhattan Bridge Inspection, New York City

A comprehensive bridge condition assessment program helps public agencies to better identify their needs, prioritize actions, and allocate available funds to preserve structures.

HAKS has become one of the Northeast region’s premier bridge inspection and evaluation firms, conducting high-profile bridge inspections primarily in the tri-state area.  Biennial inspections constitute a substantial part of our bridge infrastructure work; we have been conducting award-winning bridge biennial inspections for more than two decades.  We recently won a major NYSDOT biennial inspection in Queens County, where the firm will examine 480 bridges with more than 3,000 spans.  Challenges here include coordinating with events scheduled at Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium; work in the heavily traveled Long Island Expressway; and complicated sets of ramps on the Van Wyck Expressway.   The expansion of our bridge inspection services includes naming Rob Gizzi as Senior Vice President of Bridge Inspection for the New York region. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Breaks Ground on Swatara Creek Bridge

Existing Swatara Creek Bridge

Existing Swatara Creek Bridge

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) officials broke ground on April 22nd for the $48 million Swatara Creek Bridge Project, part of its long-term initiative to rebuild and modernize “America’s First Superhighway,” as reported in a recent article in Roads and Bridges. The design for the new roadway, in south central Pennsylvania between the Harrisburg East and Lebanon-Lancaster exits, will provide capacity for three lanes in each direction to accommodate traffic growth and will include wider shoulders and a median for added safety. More than 26,000 vehicles per day use the existing bridge.

Stage One Construction

Stage One Construction

The Swatara Creek Bridge project team includes: HAKS,  which provided final design and bid document preparation and is now providing construction support services; Hill International Inc., construction manager; and Swank Construction Co., general contractor.

According to Turnpike CEO Mark Compton, “We will spend more than $600 million on highway improvements—much of it focused on projects like the Swatara Creek Bridge that provide a smoother, safer trip for travelers. Beyond the benefits to customers, this project and others like it also create good-paying jobs and help to boost the  economy here in southern Dauphin County.”

One challenge, according to Charles A. DiCello, P.E., HAKS’ Project Manager, is the coordination of construction staging around so many complex structures and existing facilities.

The major components of this project include the complete reconstruction and widening of approximately 1.5 miles of mainline turnpike for a six-lane highway with four 12-foot shoulders and the replacement and widening of three mainline bridges. The largest bridge carries the Turnpike over Swatara Creek and Swatara Creek Road. The 620-foot-long six-span, continuous steel plate girder bridge will be replaced with a four-span, continuous steel plate girder bridge that will open in 2016.  The other mainline bridges carry the Turnpike over Vine Street  and the Middletown/Hummelstown Railroad.

Pier 3 Wall

Stage One Pier 3 reinforcing

Two cantilever cast-in-place retaining walls on pile foundations and two MSE retaining walls were designed to minimize right-of-way impacts and provide adequate room for stormwater management features. Other highlights of the project include the coordination and relocation of several utilities, over 6,400 linear feet of sound barrier walls, a wetland mitigation site and stormwater management including detention basins and swales. Right-of-way acquisition of three total properties and the partial acquisition of three additional properties were required to accommodate the widening.

See Roads and Bridges’s article “Bridge Construction: Pa. Turnpike Breaks Ground on Swatara Creek Bridge” and  PTC’s Website article “Constructing Three Replacement Turnpike Bridges in Dauphin County.”

Hamilton Avenue Asphalt Plant Opens


Mayor de Blasio; Galileo Orlando, NYCDOT; and
Husam Ahmad, Chairman & CEO, HAKS


Mayor de Blasio at Opening with Commissioners Trottenberg, NYCDOT, and Peña-Mora, NYCDDC

Following a record-setting road maintenance program that patched 338,000 potholes so far in 2014 and repaved 173 miles of streets, New York City celebrated the opening of the Hamilton Avenue Asphalt Plant in Brooklyn—one of the few municipally owned and operated asphalt plants in the country. The newly reconstructed plant will produce a new, state-of-the-art warm-mix asphalt that enables paving through the winter months.  The $25 million project was initiated by the NYCDOT and built by the NYCDDC to replace the plant’s asphalt-producing equipment, which had exceeded its 30-year operational life.  Dignitaries included Mayor Bill de Blasio; Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg; Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora, NYCDDC Commissioner; Galileo Orlando, NYCDOT Deputy Commissioner; and David Resnick, NYCDDC Deputy Commissioner. Continue reading

Transformation of West Side of Manhattan

Rezoning from a manufacturing to commercial and residential area, the soon-to-be-completed $2.4 billion extension of the No. 7 subway line to 34th Street and 11th Avenue and the popularity of the High Line were necessary steps to bringing New Yorkers and tourists to the Far West Side of Manhattan, where a massive redevelopment is taking place. This underused area has become a developer’s dream, and the transformation of this area is not that far from becoming a reality.

No. 7 Subway Extension

No. 7 Subway Extension

The 1.5-mile extension of the No. 7 line from its current terminus at Times Square to what will be known as the 34th Street/Hudson Yards Station was a crucial element to the development of this area, and is projected to be the busiest single station in New York City. HAKS provided civil and structural engineering design as a subconsultant to Parsons Brinckerhoff and is now part of the construction management team working toward the 2014 completion of this link to the Far West Side of Manhattan.



Hudson Yards Rail Yard

The Hudson Yards Redevelopment project, often referred to as the “final frontier” for development in Manhattan, is a planned $15 billion, 26-acre transit-oriented, mixed-use development on the scale of Rockefeller Center. The development will include new parks and open public spaces and a 750-seat public school. HAKS is providing special inspection and material testing for a platform over active LIRR tracks, which will serve as the foundation for two high-rise office towers, including steel fabrication in out-of-state plants.

Phase I, the Eastern Phase, will consist of two office towers bordering Tenth Avenue—10 Hudson Yards, an 895-foot-tall, 52-story structure that broke ground in December 2012 and is scheduled for completion in 2015, and 30 Hudson Yards, a 1,337-foot-tall, 80-story structure scheduled for occupancy in 2018.  The towers will be seeking LEED Gold certification.

The Hudson Yards redevelopment project is expected to provide more than 23,000 construction jobs and more than 700 residential, commercial and security positions.

Hurricane Sandy Build it Back Program

Build it Back1 (2)New York City led one of the fastest disaster recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, helping more than 20,000 families return to their homes through the Rapid Repairs program, a critical first step in assisting residents recover from the storm.  HAKS was on the front lines, mobilizing and dispatching inspectors and monitors as part of this 24/7 field operation.  The City has now shifted its focus to the long-term rebuilding effort with Build it Back, a federally funded program to assist affected homeowners, landlords and cooperative and condominium owners. Continue reading