BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Suffern – Job-seekers were given an opportunity to hear upcoming developments and employment plans with groups associated with the new Tappan Zee Bridge at Rockland Community College on March 6 to inform on.
The event panel consisted of community outreach and diversity manager for Tappan Zee Constructors Carla Julian, Rockland County Building and Construction Trades Council president John Maraia, and deputy commissioner for workforce development at the New York State Department of Labor Karen Coleman.
Together, they gave a general overview of what will occur once pre-construction work begins, an event which might occur as early as late March, when engineers will begin to do preliminary work in the river.
“The door of opportunity here is just beginning to open,” Special advisor to the Governor on the new bridge Brian Conybeare said.
Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium of builders, engineers, architects, will be responsible for most of the hiring, working through subcontractors to obtain labor throughout the building process. Tables for Tappan Zee Constructors, trade union groups, and the Department of Labor were also available to provide further information and career services to job-seekers.
According to Conybeare, the project remains in a relatively early stage with various subcontractors working to complete their final plans. Though hiring would begin slowly and pick up over the course of 2013, job-seekers were encouraged to seek positions as they became available and work with the Department of Labor to find job opportunities.
“We are using the Department of labor as a focal point because they have all the contacts you need,” Conybeare stated. “They have a job bank, hiring sites and information that can help you access the unions and other opportunities that are out there.”
As part of the Design-Build process, builders with Tappan Zee Constructors turned in designs at 30% completion. According to Julian, the consortium will post opportunities on their website at www.tappanzeeconstructors.com as the plans are further developed over the course of about a year.
Julian explained hiring would be split between the areas of direct hires, subcontractors, suppliers, and hospitality workers. Most opportunities available through the Tappan Zee Constructors would be in the areas of administration, construction, contracts and procurement, engineering, finance and accounting, information technology, payroll and human resources, safety and environmental management, scheduling and project controls.
John Maraia added that contractors would be organized and conducted through unionized subcontractors but employment will be open to both union and non-union workers. Special programs to incentivize the hiring of military veterans will also be implemented.
“It’s not only a union job,” Maraia said. “The contract is between the union and the state, but it’s open to everybody.”
Coleman expanded on Department of Labor services which can assist in job searches and opportunities in both the bridge project and other large building projects. These services include the Jobs Express! program which charts regionally-based cross sections of job openings, New York State Career Centers where applicants can receive job counseling and services, and the New York State Job Bank, which offers job-searchers and employers the opportunity to put out applications and job postings online at no cost.
The Tappan Zee project, which is the first large scale design-build project in New York, obtained all necessary clearances to begin building and received a notice to proceed in January 2013. The selection of Tappan Zee constructors lowered the proposed price of the bridge to $3.9 million and shortened the construction time to about five years and two and a half months, with taxpayer expenses estimated to be around $3.14 billion.
The bridge itself will have two spans with four traffic lanes and two emergency breakdown lanes each. There will also be a bike path, drive-thru EZ pass lanes, and a more level surface than the current bridge to enhance traffic speed and reduce breaking.