McLaren Engineering Group designed 14 new ferry landings and renovated four additional ferry landings, for the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (NYCEDC) initiative to expand its NYC Ferry service. The unified ferry system connects Manhattan with Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and in 2021 Staten Island – creating an affordable, efficient way to link city residents and commuters by water. This major advancement to the City’s infrastructure has provided a much-needed upgrade to New York’s mass transit needs and increased overall connectivity in isolated neighborhoods, offering New Yorkers direct connections to many of the City’s open spaces. The opportunity for residents to better connect to jobs and economic opportunities throughout the city can bring a positive economic impact to those areas.
McLaren’s scope of work included design, planning, coordination, permitting, procurement and construction administration. New landings around NYC include Astoria, Atlantic Ave / Brooklyn Bridge Park, Bay Ridge, Coney Island Creek, Corlears Hook / Grand St, East 90th St, Long Island City North, Red Hook / Atlantic Basin, Rockaway, Roosevelt Island, Soundview, Staten Island, Stuyvesant Cove / East 20th St and Throgs Neck. Renovated landings include 34th Street, Fulton Landing / Dumbo, Pier 11 and S. Williamsburg / Schaefer Landing.
McLaren’s extensive experience designing ferry landings enabled the firm to quickly design safe, efficient landings that link the city’s boroughs. The McLaren engineering team designed and implemented a floating landing concept, containing a barge that rises and falls with the tides, to accommodate vessels of varying freeboards. Designed for resiliency and to be compliant with Local Law 68 (passenger accessibility), the barges are easy to maintain and removable.
The first phase of NYC Ferry system launched in May of 2017 with McLaren contracted to provide engineering consulting services for the development, investigation, planning, design, coordination, permitting, procurement, and construction administration for 11 new ferry landings and the restoration of two others. The team included Lakhani & Jordan Engineers, P.C. for electrical design and Insight Civil Engineering, PLLC for civil design, wayfinding and PDC outreach.
The project came with a strict construction deadline and a few unique challenges. First, the team would be working on 13 landings with separate owners, meaning 13 individual approval, inspection, permitting processes to coordinate should the ferries be constructed upland. Second, pre-fabricated barges were already in the process of being constructed prior to the team’s involvement making the design dependent on specifications created by other entities. Third, the entire structure needed to be resilient and adaptable in order to make the ferry system work as a mass transit hub and an emergency relief service option. An innovative design solution was proposed by McLaren to combat these challenges and create a unified ferry system that was adaptable and resilient. McLaren created a standardized system consisting of a prefabricated floating barge, a canopy, steel piles, fenders, gangway and passenger amenities.
To reduce coordination with individual property owners, the gangway does not connect to land but sits on an independent pile cap. This reduced the need for coordination, inspection, drawing research, and analysis of each site, enabling the team to remain on track with time. The connection from the barge to the upland, by a gangway, is independent of the existing bulkhead, esplanade or relieving platform. By installing a mini-platform adjacent to the land, all loads are isolated away from the existing structure. This small footprint also allows the landings to be easily removed and relocated if ridership demands suggest adjustments to the route.
The design also upgraded NYC Ferry system’s ability to withstand extreme environmental events and facilitate quick responses due to its inherent flexibility – from both in an engineering standpoint and an operational one. The isolation of the floating barge structure from upland components, design of minimally restrained gangways, and inclusion of contingency features all contribute to improving functionality and durability when faced with extreme conditions. The floating barge is the primary means of protecting the terminal against damages that could jeopardize ferry service after extreme storm events. The most recent FEMA Flood Insurance maps available identify that the water levels anticipated with a 100-year storm would overtop the seawall at all the terminal locations considered. Thus, any non-watertight electrical or mechanical components located on land or a fixed pier at the upland elevation would be subject to severe water damage that would make the terminal inoperable for several days to weeks. By providing a floating barge structure and hinged gangway seated on this barge, the barge deck and portions of the gangway become safe surfaces to mount.