ECCO III Enterprises

Nearly every government official serving in or around Queens County, N.Y., agrees that the Kew Gardens Interchange improvement project could not have come soon enough. Many drivers use this changing point daily to gather their bearings and head on to various routes including Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike. It is also accessed by pedestrians travelling to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) Briarwood subway station.

“The Kew Gardens interchange is among the busiest in New York City, with more than a half-million vehicles passing through it daily,” according to New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “I commend the [New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT)] for also considering pedestrians in their redesign of the interchange because many Queens residents do not have cars but still need to be able to navigate through their neighborhoods and over the highways that crisscross them.”

The project, funded by $71 million in 2005 New York State Bond Act funds, $74 million from state and federal sources and $3 million from local government and utility work, broke ground August 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2016. The NYSDOT commissioned Hardesty & Hanover LLP to design the $148 million project and contracted ECCO III Enterprises to carry out the construction.

Main facets of the project include widening a half-mile section of both north- and southbound Van Wyck Expressway from Union Turnpike to Hillside Avenue by one lane; rehabbing two Queens Boulevard bridges – one over the Van Wyck Expressway and another over Main Street; rehabbing the Hoover Avenue bridge over Van Wyck Expressway; and rehabbing the 82nd Street pedestrian bridge over Van Wyck Expressway to be ADA compliant. Roads including the Van Wyck and Queens Boulevard will also undergo extensive landscaping renovations.

The Queens Boulevard bridges, which will accommodate three pedestrian plazas, are being constructed using pre-stressed concrete Northeast Extreme Tee (NEXT) Beams. NEXT Beams were developed by the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Northeast and a consortium of engineers from New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. According to PCI, the stout, double-T design minimizes both manufacturing and installation labor.

It also is ideal for bridge spans between 30 feet and 90 feet and designed to withstand harsh northeastern winters. This is the first time the NYSDOT has used NEXT Beams in its projects, ECCO III Project Manager Amy Pazmino notes.

Very Good Success

As of May, ECCO III was in the midst of reconstructing subway entrances and a pedestrian tunnel. A new pedestrian bridge spanning over the newly widened Van Wyck Expressway will replace the existing span in the last stage of the project. ECCO III is also rehabbing the Hoover Avenue bridge, the Queens Boulevard bridge over Main Street and the Queens Boulevard bridge over Van Wyck Expressway, as well as widening the Van Wyck Expressway northbound lanes.

ECCO III is subcontracting several tasks such as steel demolition and erection, pile augering , sign and guardrail installation, electrical work, landscaping, tile work in the tunnels, stone work on some of the bridges, painting, asbestos abatement of the bridges and trucking. “We have had very good success with the subcontractors,” Pazmino says.

“Some are new, some we have worked with in the past, and we make sure to help them as much as we can to facilitate things and ensure their success,” she adds.

Some of ECCO III’s key partners include Bohemia Garden Center Inc. and Safety Marking Inc.

As well as managing subcontractor work, ECCO III is self-performing concrete demolition, excavation, concrete work, drainage installation, and pile driving. Though this is its largest highway project as the sole general contractor, Pazmino says ECCO III is treading familiar ground on this job. The 40-year-old company has made a name for itself by working on big-ticket civil and infrastructure construction jobs such as highways, mass transit, bridges, dams, and wastewater and water treatment facilities.

“We have always done this type of work,” says Pazmino, who has been with ECCO for more than 11 years.

“Our staff that we have comes with a lot of knowledge,” she adds. “Most of our superintendents or project management staff are either engineers or professional engineers, and we have a lot of expertise.”

ECCO III has worked on several projects with NYSDOT in the past 20 years and has maintained a positive working relationship with the state for just as long. Pazmino credits this to the department’s commitment to fostering cooperation.

“NYSDOT and ECCO III sponsor a partnership meeting before each project begins,” she explains. “They bring in parties like the utility companies, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the MTA, and everybody comes to the table to discuss goals individually and ways to make sure all the goals are being met the best they can.” Examples on this project include the Briarwood station renovations for the MTA as well as the coordination of  the temporary relocation of water, gas and electrical lines so as not to disrupt utility services.

“Each agency identifies needs and what’s important to them,” Pazmino continues. “We stay true to that to make sure everybody is happy. It’s still early in the game, but so far it has been successful.”

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