Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announces the completion of the I-287 reconstruction project in Westchester County nine months ahead of schedule. After more than a decade of construction delays and $78 million in cost overruns, Governor Cuomo in 2011 ordered an independent and comprehensive review of the project.
As a result of recommendations from the study, the completion date of the project’s final phase – improvements at Interchange 8 in White Plains – was moved up nine months from the initially scheduled date of August 2013. The final phase was substantially completed on December 14, 2012, and the highway has been fully open to traffic since last month.
“The I-287 reconstruction project was a prime example for drivers in Westchester of the dysfunction in state government, but in the last two years we reformed the process, reduced the cost to taxpayers and finished the job ahead of schedule,” Governor Cuomo says. “This project began over a decade ago and resulted in tens of millions in cost overruns and years of delay – time and money that New York taxpayers could not afford to waste.
"Last year, I ordered a full review of the project to get the job done," he continues. "And as a result of the reforms we put into place, today, traffic is flowing smoothly on this new stretch of highway. State government is changing the way it does business, ensuring that New Yorkers get the work they paid for and the results they deserve.”
The I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway Corridor project began 15 years ago, but was stalled by significant construction delays and cost overruns. When it began, the cost of the first five stages of the project was expected to be $490 million, but overruns and changes in project scope during previous administrations resulted in the final cost being $568 million.
As a response, in June 2011, Governor Cuomo put together the Interstate 287 Task Force and ordered an independent and comprehensive review of the I-287 project. Peter Lehrer, a renowned national construction expert, led the review which resulted in a series of recommendations for the State Department of Transportation (DOT) in project and agency management. DOT implemented agency-wide reforms designed to keep state highway construction projects like the I-287 on budget and on time.
After the review, the completion date for the sixth and final stage of the project at Interchange 8 was moved up nine months from August 2013 to December 2012. This phase was substantially completed on December 14, 2012 and opened to traffic early.
“Governor Cuomo is making government work again, and work smartly and effectively for all New Yorkers,” State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “With the Governor’s leadership, the State Department of Transportation is transforming the way it manages the state’s infrastructure, ensuring that projects support safety, mobility and the financial bottom line.”
Highlights of reforms taken at DOT include:
- Holding monthly meetings to review projects and performance, reviewing issues and coordinating communication to ensure projects stay on schedule.
- Using expert consultants to analyze project designs before work begins.
- Establishing a Capital Program Delivery Committee that closely scrutinizes the complexity and size of each project to make sure the best designers and project managers are used.
- Approving or rejecting project change order requests within a two-week period, saving time when unexpected issues arise on a project.
- Redesigning the funding process to better direct money to major projects.
- Encouraging the sharing of resources and staff expertise across all regions of the state, reducing costs and improving project management.
- Implementing a revised performance review process to ensure all DOT initiatives meet the highest standards.
The latest phase of the I-287 project reconstructed the Exit 8E interchange to improve safety and traffic flow, replacing two bridges, constructing a new bridge and reconstructing exit ramps to improve access from I-287 to downtown White Plains and local connections to Harrison.
The project separated local traffic from traffic destined for downtown White Plains with the construction of both east and west bound direct access roads from I-287 to White Plains, bypassing the traffic signals on Westchester Avenue at White Plains Avenue. The project included the installation of new traffic signals and sidewalks, as well as the replacement of guiderail and ramps along a mile-long section of the expressway. ECCO 3 Enterprises Inc. of Yonkers is the prime contractor for the project.
In early spring, contractors will put down the final top course of paving and will complete striping; new street lighting will be installed along North Street; wetlands mitigation will be completed and the entire project length will be landscaped.