The reconstruction of the Manhattan-to-Queens ramp of the RFK Bridge is the TBTAs largest design-build contract to date. LiRo is Construction Manager and Design Review Manager for the project, which will replace the existing elevated ramp with a new wider, seismically reinforced structure with increased traffic capacity. Extensive coordination with TBTA, NYPD, and NYC Parks facilities located beneath the bridge, as well as the continued maintenance of traffic flow, add to the complexity of the project. As young engineers, Mike, Connor, and Lindsey are excited to be part of this challenge.
What is the most important lesson you have learned on this project?
LS - The need to verify existing conditions as they are identified in the plans and specifications. Many of the problems encountered during the project were due to unknown field conditions.
CL - Communication. During this project I've learned how important communicating with my team and the contractor are. Any issues in the field must be brought to the attention of not only my office but the contractor as well, as soon as possible to keep any work delays to a minimum.
What are some unique challenges related to this project and how were they resolved?
LS – Since the project is a Design-Build contract there were many unknown conditions that were discovered during the design phase, which caused significant changes to the contract scope of work. These changes required the project team to work together to minimize the impact on the construction cost and schedule.
MK – A Design-build contract requires a different approach from the traditional design-bid-build process. Documents and drawings must be reassessed daily because the project is changing as it is being built and moving at a rapid pace. This proved to be challenging while coordinating with field personnel.
What is the best part of your job?
CL - The best part about my job is the people. We have a very close team with a single objective; to do the job right. We take pride in building something that will stand tall for many years to come. Our RE Vikas Wagh and Chief Inspector Viorel Chirila have instilled an attitude of quality. Building a structure correctly that will stand the test of time is something not everyone gets a chance to do when they wake up in the morning. We realize what an opportunity we have to come to work and make a difference in the world.
MK - Knowing that I am playing a role in the future and betterment of the infrastructure of our country motivates me on a day to day basis. Realizing that millions of people are going to travel over a structure that I helped build is the best part of my job.
What is the best advice you have received from your project managers?
LS - Always think ahead. In the construction industry people often focus on the task that is occurring rather than focusing on the end result. By taking a step back and planning for the future it will help you effectively accomplish the task at hand.
MK - Double check, re-check, and always keep an engineering mindset instead of blindly following the drawings. Understand why and ask why.
CL - My RE, Vikas Wagh, told me to think pictorially. Meaning that if someone says Pier 15 I have to visually see it in my head, the actual Pier and not the plan. Through practice my memory is improving, thus making me a better engineer.
How did your education prepare you for your role on this project?
LS - While at University of Central Florida, I studied Civil Engineering with an emphasis in construction. The construction program allowed students to gain knowledge in project management principles, construction methods, and project planning. These skills helped me prepare for my role as an Office Engineer.
MK - Manhattan College put a lot of emphasis on knowing practical field knowledge and not using computers to solve problems. This has helped me greatly in being where I am today.
Michael Kobbe has been with LiRo since 2011, and previously was assigned as a field engineer for the reconstruction of CR 57 in Bay Shore. He received a degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College, and is a New York State EIT.
Lindsey Singletary has been assigned to the RFK Bridge since joining LiRo in 2011, previously serving as Office Engineer for the RK-65D Utility Relocation project. She received a civil engineering degree from University of Central Florida, and is a Florida EIT.
Connor Laudani has been assigned to the RK-73 project since he joined LiRo in 2013. He received a civil engineering degree from SUNY Buffalo, is a New York State EIT, and an ATSSA Traffic Control Technician.