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New York City’s $7 Billion Jail Construction Project Delayed Beyond 2027 Deadline

New York City is reportedly set to enter into near $7 billion construction contracts for the creation of new jails in Queens and the Bronx. City records indicate these might not be ready until 2031. This completion date is alarmingly four years after the mandatory 2027 deadline to close the notorious Rikers Island jail complex.

The Queens and Bronx Jails Delayed

The new Queens jail, managed by the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), is anticipated to cost at least $3.9 billion. The Bronx facility, on the other hand, has a projected cost minimum of $2.9 billion, according to City Record notices. The completion contracts for both facilities span nearly seven years, pushing the finalization to well beyond the Rikers Island closure deadline.

Despite the city’s legal obligation to shut down the controversial and beleaguered Rikers Island complex by 2027, the newly proposed timelines put this commitment in jeopardy. In the interim, criticisms are mounting over the city’s perceived failure in ensuring the safety and welfare of the people incarcerated at Rikers. “On the Mayor’s watch, 31 people have died and countless others have experienced abuse, neglect, and violence at the Rikers Island penal colony,” commented Darren Mack, co-director of Freedom Agenda.

Brooklyn Jail’s Construction Progress

The 2027 deadline for the closure of Rikers Island was established in law signed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2019. However, the construction process for the Brooklyn jail, the furthest developed among the new facilities, is not set to finish until 2029 at the earliest. The prospect of this exceeded timeframe has enraged advocates calling for the immediate closure of Rikers Island. This soon-to-be-constructed Brooklyn detention center will garner costs of at least $3.4 billion, as per city records.

Construction Contractors Selected

The Bronx project will be carried out by the Transformative Reform Group LLC, a firm chosen as one of six competitors for the new jail contracts by the de Blasio administration in 2021. Leon D. DeMatteis Construction Corp. of Elmont will take charge of the Queens jail’s construction.

New York City’s construction strategy falls under the design-build format. This methodology is meant to expedite construction and enhance efficiency. DDC states, “Design-Build will allow DDC to complete public projects faster and more efficiently,” however, this doesn’t seem to apply to the jail projects.

Delay Amid Controversy

With public hearings about the contracts scheduled for May 16, criticisms are flooding in regarding the extended deadlines. Mental Health Project representative from the Urban Justice Center, Jennifer Parish, expressed concern stating, “Delaying completion of the Queens and Bronx jails is shameful and unlawful. Mayor Adams is failing in his responsibility to advance the plan to close Rikers.”

Despite the rising cost and delay controversies, city representatives assert their commitment to the completion of these borough-based jails. However, the delay challenges the city’s promise to ensure the safety of New Yorkers and progressively close down the problematic Rikers Island complex on time.

 

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