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New York seeks outside expertise for massive transport upgrade

NEW YORK transport officials said last month that they would welcome overseas expertise to help deliver a massive programme of transport improvement over the next decade.

Without it, New York City Transit (NYCT), the State body which oversees the Subway and buses, said it feared it will struggle to deliver its ambitious plans.

It is expected to let dozens of design briefs and construction contracts by the end of 2004, encompassing hard and soft rock tunnelling, station design and construction, transport planning and project management.

'We will be looking for international consultants and contractors to do this work, ' said NYCT chief engineer Mysore Nagaraja. 'There is not the manpower or the skills here.'

Projects planned include:

l$16bn Second Avenue subway - being design-managed by an Aecom (Faber Maunsell)/ Arup joint venture l$1.75bn Line 7 extension being designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff l$655M Fulton Street Transit Centre l$393M South Ferry Terminal Station.

The US federal government is also expected to commit funding to boost anti-terrorist security on New York's transport systems.

This is likely to include hardening of tunnels and stations, escape planning and improved surveillance equipment.

The transport programme is part of NYCT's $11.3bn five year plan of improvements. This new spending represents the first investment on the subway for around 60 years.

New York's forthcoming bid to host the 2012 Olympics is one driving force behind the transport improvement programme.

Although much of this cash has yet to be secured from federal grants and bond issues, several billion dollars are already available for construction and design contracts.

'We need particular expertise to enable us to deliver these projects, ' said Nagaraja.

'In particularly we are looking to boost the tunnelling expertise available in New York. If UK, European or Asian companies can show us these skills then we would be very interested.'

But Nagaraja warned that firms would have to link up with local companies if they were to stand a chance of succeeding.

'Construction in New York is very expensive and requires great local knowledge of working practices, ' said Nagaraja, referring to the need for engineers to work within a daunting array of labour laws and unions.

'International firms will have to combine with local contractors and consultants, ' he said.

Antony Oliver

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