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January 28, 2009

Despite announced two-year timetable to replace Carlton Avenue Bridge, contract gives FCR three years (and maybe more)

Atlantic Yards Report

Why is the half-demolished Carlton Avenue Bridge lying fallow in Prospect Heights? Because cash-strapped Forest City Ratner has a lot more time to replace it than anyone (outside of Forest City Ratner and city and state agencies) knew.

The Carlton Avenue Bridge, closed on 1/23/08 and currently half-demolished, was supposed to to be closed two years for reconstruction.

However, the contract for bridge work--which I obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request--gives developer Forest City Ratner three years before penalties kick in, and even longer in case of unavoidable delays. (Excerpt below.)

That three-year window has never been made public, as far as I know, and I got only a cursory explanation of why it was allowed.

“We negotiated an agreement with FCR which met our mutual needs," New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Seth Solomonow told me. "The project end-date does not preclude the possibility of earlier completion.”

That's true, but it doesn't explain why no one announced that 36 months might be an end-date.

Moreover, as I describe below, "unavoidable delays" could extend the deadline to 60 months, or five years, to finish the job, without penalty--and loose contract language could stretch that deadline even more.

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NoLandGrab: In government-speak, "we negotiated an agreement with FCR which met our mutual needs" means "we served this up on a silver platter for Bruce Ratner — public be damned."

Posted by eric at January 28, 2009 8:48 AM