Construction projects plug away even with city shutting down
Wednesday morning, the pounding of jackhammers and the blaring beeps of trucks in reverse broke the eerie quiet on the waterfront in Williamsburg, where work continues at Domino Park.
“Three hundred guys spread over 66 floors is not a lot,” said Scott Avram, the Lightsone executive who oversees the project. “You’re not confined to an office. They’re already wearing gloves and masks and hats and glasses, and they’re already not working in close proximity to one another.”
Boston has suspended all construction projects in the city, while San Francisco’s new shelter-in-place order has left cranes and construction sites deserted.
In New York, it’s largely business as usual, though some workers have been calling out because they’re worried about the virus, said Elizabeth Velez, chair of the New York Building Congress, an industry trade group.
“The work is ongoing, but it’s getting quieter on construction sites as we grapple with the issue of ensuring we have enough staff to be able to work and mitigate against the risk,” Velez said. “So far, there’s no plan to delay.”
Some New Yorkers are just now realizing how loud construction can be, especially because many are now working from home. City Councilman Keith Powers, who represents part of Manhattan, said his office has been getting calls from constituents about all the noise.
With many commuters avoiding Manhattan, the crowd at Grand Central Terminal was eerily sparse Tuesday afternoon, while major construction projects nearby continued. At One Vanderbilt, a massive office tower being built just west of the terminal, clanking metal and drills resounded through streets that were quiet save for the occasional car horn or siren.
A few blocks north, workers were toiling away at JPMorgan Chase’s new tower. One guarded the site sporting a white helmet and a giant black face mask.
In the Hudson Yards area, about 500 crew members were working on the Javits Convention Center. That could change soon, with local officials considering stricter rules that would require most New Yorkers to stay home.
If construction projects in the city are halted, the economic repercussions could be devastating. There are currently more than 6,800 active construction sites across the city, employing tens of thousands of workers.
Shutting down the projects could bankrupt construction firms and lead to massive layoffs, issues that other industries are contending with as the virus roils the U.S. economy.