Benefits of having the City’s design and construction experts located in one office are the interaction, collaboration, and efficiencies it facilitates. These benefits foster an innovative spirit demonstrated by our leadership in developing technical expertise. Research and development (R&D) is integral to DDC’s approach to the City’s capital program and DDC’s Infrastructure Division has undertaken several ambitious projects.
An R&D objective has been the incorporation of trenchless technology in road work. DDC undertook a successful study to determine the feasibility of using trenchless lining technology for the reconstruction of select water mains. Trenchless technology involves installing water mains and other pipes under active streets, using various tunneling and boring methods. These innovations vastly reduce disruption to the lives of those above. A trenchless project on a large-diameter water main lining on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue is in progress and will reduce inconvenience experienced by pedestrians, motorists and businesses.
An example of not accepting the status quo, DDC and the Department of Transportation sponsored “City Lights,” a juried, two-stage design competition for a contemporary street light and pole that attracted entries from around the world. The winning pole, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners with Office for Visual Interaction, is now being developed.
Today, R&D is studying ways to prevent reflective cracking in asphalt and seeking methods to stop its spread in composite pavements. Reflective cracking originates under the asphalt and pushes up to create a bulge. Current strategies being studied include controlled intentional cracking to reduce the stresses and use of a fabric matrix under the asphalt.
Another R&D objective has been the incorporation of sustainable design principles into infrastructure projects. Initiatives include widespread use of recycled materials and low-toxicity products. DDC further employs sustainable design principles in designing and building in a watershed area. This initiative is commonly referred to as Best Management Practices (BMP). A BMP is designed to minimize the environmental impacts of urban storm water run-off affecting natural wetland systems. Moreover, BMP installations drain and filter the surface rainwater run-off and return it to the natural habitat to replenish the surrounding aquifer.
The Staten Island Bluebelt is a cost-effective storm water management system for approximately one-third of Staten Island’s land area. The program preserves natural drainage corridors, called Bluebelts, including streams, ponds, and other wetland areas. Preservation of these wetland systems allows them to perform their functions of conveying, storing, and filtering storm water. In addition, the Bluebelts provide important community open spaces and diverse wildlife habitats.
DDC works closely with the City’s Department of Environment Protection in designing and constructing the infrastructure and BMPs in and around the Bluebelt.