Guest Op-Ed: Accelerating construction to create jobs

New Yorkers can expect more jobs and better-kept roads, bridges, schools, firehouses and sewers, thanks to a plan I proposed in February and that the city adopted this month.

On October 17, I joined the mayor and the City Council speaker at City Hall to announce the implementation of a capital acceleration plan. The plan will hasten the construction of $1 billion of infrastructure improvements, projects that are already in the pipeline but weren’t scheduled to start until much later.

By doing these projects now, rather than later, the city will save taxpayers more than $200 million by taking advantage of historically low interest rates. But even better, it will create 8,000 jobs, mostly in the construction industry, where there is plenty of capacity.

Put simply, this plan will deliver a much-needed shot in the arm to our city’s economy. First and foremost, it means more jobs for Brooklyn residents at a time when the borough is experiencing an 11 percent unemployment rate.

In fact, of the approximately 150,000 New Yorkers who work in construction, almost a third live in Brooklyn, and too many of these skilled workers are either underemployed or unemployed. Unemployment in the construction industry disproportionately affects minorities. About 20 percent of New York City construction workers are African-American and 40 percent are Latino.

It’s not just folks who work in construction who will benefit from this great plan. Small businesses in Brooklyn can also expect a much needed boost. That’s one of the great things about construction projects: The benefits trickle through our local economy, as workers patronize local restaurants, shops, and services – promoting new hiring at those businesses.

As of now, the projects set for accelerated capital funding throughout the city and in Brooklyn include:

  • $290 million for repairs and upgrades to 100 school buildings;
  • $85.3 million for rehabilitation of city property, including the buildings at 209 and 210 Joralemon Street;
  • $59.8 million to resurface an additional 300 lane-miles of roadway, including $17.2 million for Brooklyn;
  • $37.7 million for street reconstruction; and,
  • $62 million for the Coney Island and the 26th Ward water pollution control plants.

Creating good jobs, accelerating infrastructure improvements, and realizing long-term cost savings are a winning trifecta for our city’s taxpayers.

Tough times demand creative solutions, and this plan is a solution that will keep our city moving. It is not an argument to spend more. Rather, we are promoting smart, strategic investments that will help put our economy back on track.

Government is not the only solution to our economic problems, but it must be part of the solution. This is a plan that saves dollars and makes sense.


John C. Liu is New York City comptroller.

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