There is very little available, or unaccounted for, space left on Roosevelt Island’s 147 acres to build new infrastructure. But there’s a big need to maintain its existing infrastructure and keep it updated for the next 50 years.
The reality though is RI’s infrastructure maintenance is often costly, time-consuming and considered a disruptive inconvenience to residents, business owners and even tourists and visitors who live, work and flock here in growing annual numbers. But the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation believes maintenance’s long-term benefits trump the short-term inconveniences.
Last year, RIOC embarked on a robust five-year capital improvement plan. Some of those initial projects now are close to completion. Below, we’ll update the status of those, revisit the progress of others and maybe introduce you to more plans of which you might have been unaware.
• The Helix Ramp: This road construction repair job began in February and during early demolition and preparation the structure was found to be in a more severe state of disrepair than previously thought. In May, the contractors and project managers extended the project scope and timeline for completion. The two-lane spiral roadway and adjacent plaza will now re-open to traffic on July 3. There will be intermittent disruptions to two way traffic to complete installation of new guardrails as well as expansion joint material along the lower ramp of the helix.
• The deteriorating Roosevelt Island seawall railings that run along the majority of the Island’s shoreline about 3.5 miles in length are being replaced with new anti-corrosive steel railings. The $8.7 million project is being completed by Elit Green Builders Corporation which so far has completed about a third of the project around the southern end of the Island. Work is expected to continue through December 2018.
• The Tram Station platform construction, a project that began May 16 and was scheduled to last 30 days, has been delayed by inclement weather. The construction work along with the re-installation of MetroCard vending machines should be completed by the end of June. Both cabins of the Tram will return to service at that time.
• Tram Station Elevator: A $6.1 million construction project to upgrade the Manhattan Tram Station elevator started last month week and the two building phases will be finished by late Spring 2019. The elevator project, at 59th Street and Second Avenue, calls for an iconic, two-bank, ADA-compliant glass elevator which replaces the existing elevator that has outlasted its expected mechanical life.
• The RI Youth Center renovation work is now in the proposal bid process. Once a contractor is selected this summer, the work will last up to three months. The youth center programs will be relocated to the Sportspark during the construction period.
• Blackwell House Renovation is a full structural refurbishment of the original farmhouse home of the Blackwell family, one of the early owners and inhabitants of what is now known as Roosevelt Island. The outside porch and entire interior, of the home built in 1796, has been totally gutted and new floors, walls, support beams, stairways, and code-compliant HAVC systems are being installed. The house will serve as a community meeting facility and new office for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and reservoir for all Island and RIOC archives. Current completion date is early fall 2018.
• The Al Lewis and Blackwell north playground areas will be getting playground equipment repairs and replacement and new poured in place rubberized play surfaces; work is set to begin later this summer.
Stay tuned for additional updates and news about upcoming projects at Octagon Field, Firefighter’s Field, Motorgate, Southpoint Park and Lighthouse Park.