RIOC Announcements:

The Tram Elevator is Down.

The Tram Elevator is Working.

The Tram Elevator is Down.

The Tram Elevator is Working.

The Tram Elevator is Down.

(Rinse and Repeat.)

by Briana Warsing

If comedy equals tragedy plus time, then the elevator situation at the Manhattan Tram station is now officially laughable.

The September 8 meeting of RIOC’s Operations Advisory Committee provided more good news/bad news, a revised completion date, and another unanticipated glitch, which those following the elevator saga have come to expect.

The good news: The piston that drives the main elevator has been replaced, and, according to Board Member Michael Shinozaki, RIOC is now “shooting for fall 2016” to have the new elevator constructed and operational.

However, RIOC’s attempt to push the project along by separating the architectural design work from the construction work (because RIOC was unable to get a single response to the RFP that combined these functions) was dealt a blow when the architectural firm, WASA Studios – founded in 1889 and designers of Grand Central Station – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 28.

“This really only puts us back by 6 to 8 weeks,” said RIOC’s Director of Engineering, John Bost. Bost explained that the WASA group that was primarily involved in designing the new elevator have moved to another firm. Hypothetically, the RIOC elevator-design contract will, with the blessing of the bankruptcy court and assent of the State, be assigned to that new firm.

None of this is especially heartening to the Island populations who depend on the elevator, a point made by Board Member Fay Christian and echoed by RIRA Island Services Committee members Aaron Hamburger and Simina Kroculick.

Christian also lamented the poor performance of the company that RIOC has contracted with to perform maintenance of the existing elevator. “I’ve never been happy with them. By now they should know what the problem is and be able to fix it right away.” She said, “It’s like they send new people every time who don’t know anything.”

RIOC President Charlene Indelicato agreed that the company’s performance has not met her expectations, noting that they were, unfortunately, the only company to respond to RIOC’s RFP. “I believe we are going to RFP again; the reason why we chose them is they were the only ones who answered.”

Part of the problem with keeping the elevator functional stems from RIOC’s unwillingness to invest in anything beyond temporary repairs to the existing elevator with a new elevator supposedly coming by “fall of 2016.” This is why RIOC was once again in the awkward position of sending out multiple, contradictory “advisories” within minutes of each other earlier this week, confusingly stating that the elevator was, and then was not, functioning.

The issue this time was with the mechanism that operates the elevator doors – a refurbished part that continues to fail and require repair. A new mechanism would, according to Shinozaki, cost approximately $15,000, a sum RIOC is unwilling to invest at this time.

In addition to discussions regarding the Tram elevator and a proposal to ban bicycles from the helix [see story page 1; commentary, page 2], there were several other noteworthy topics:

• “Winter is coming.” So says Shinozaki, and with it, more damage to the surface of the helix roadway. Unfortunately, significant repairs are impossible at present, due to the amount of traffic from the Cornell project. The hope is to maintain the roadway with some temporary fixes to keep us as pothole-free as possible through the winter.

• If you thought (as I did) that the Gristede’s turnaround was closed due to safety concerns after the death of a cyclist there last year, you would be wrong. Apparently, the timing was coincidental, and the actual reason is a sinkhole that developed under the pavement and is currently covered by a large piece of plywood. The cause of the sinkhole is unknown.

• Board Member Christian wanted to know why there is no bench at the Manhattan Park Red Bus stop that replaced the one in the Gristede’s turnaround. According to Indelicato, RIOC has approached Manhattan Park about adding a bench on their property, but has to date been rebuffed.

• The check is in the mail! Repairs to the Southpoint seawall are on hold pending FEMA funding, as are renovations to the interior of Blackwell House (including the porch, which is rotting out) pending funding from the City. There has been progress on the latter, however.

• RIOC is withholding a final payment of $30,000 to the contractor who performed repairs on the West Pier, and will allocate that money to pay a different contractor to perform additional repairs there.

The Con Edison trench work on Main Street will continue simultaneously with the Roosevelt Landings façade work, despite the fact that the Con Edison project will not be fully completed before the winter, and will now require Main Street to be torn up again in the spring.

Tags: RIOC Tram Briana Warsing

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