With the impending launch of New York City’s Citywide Ferry system this summer, the pieces are starting to come together. The ferry vessels, under construction in Alabama and Louisiana, will arrive for their final construction phase in Brooklyn over the next few months. Meanwhile, last Wednesday morning, construction officially began at the first Citywide Ferry landing at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways. Incoming NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President James Patchett was on hand to place his signature on a cylindrical steel pile which was then installed into the mudline.

Rockaway-Citywide Ferry Landing-Beach 108th Street-Skanska-NYCEDC-QueensSkanska prepares the first pile for signing by NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. Photo via Skanska.

The construction and engineering firm Skanska, who is also involved in the complicated underground work at the New York Wheel on Staten Island and with the Second Avenue Subway, is the construction manager for the ferry landing project. As show in renderings released last May by NYCEDC, the ferry landings will be a bit different than the ones we’ve seen along the New York City waterfront thus far. Passengers will wait on a 90 foot by 35 foot barge with canopies and wind screens, which will provide protection from the weather and reduce the impact that the landings could have on the land side in terms of built structures and queueing. The marine coated steel barges, which are built at Mayship on Staten Island, will be connected by an ADA accessible aluminum gangway to land. On the barge, travelers will have information about the schedule and access to ticket machines.

Rockaway-Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering-Beach 108th Street-Skanska-NYCEDC-Queens-001Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering via NYCEDC.

As Skanska senior project manager Deb Jordan explains to us, the barges are built to a “cookie cutter frame” and Skanksa’s subcontractors then make each one specific to the site. Marine contractors then bring the barge on site for installation, and Skanska awards further contracts for the upland components of the installation, including electrical to power the ferries. The barges are connected to the piles and move up and down with the tides.

Rockaway-Citywide Ferry Landing-Beach 108th Street-Skanska-NYCEDC-Queens-001Skanska workers prepare to lift the first pile for installation. The pile is driven into the seabed to anchor the barge in place. Photo via Skanska.

The Beach 108th Street ferry landing, along the Rockaway boardwalk, is the first of eleven landings that will be built in the first phase of Citywide Ferry. Skanska has already been working on the rehabilitation of the Rockaways since 2014, rebuilding the boardwalk damaged in Hurricane Sandy. When Citywide Ferry fully launches, there will be a total of 21 landings throughout the five boroughs. 19 vessels operated by Hornblower will ply the six routes and it is estimated that the system will carry 4.6 million passengers a year. It will take 45 minutes to an hour to get from the Rockaways to Pier 11 in Manhattan at the same price as a subway ride.

Rockaway-Citywide Ferry Landing-Beach 108th Street-Skanska-NYCEDC-Queens-003From Left to Right: Paul Boomgaardt (NYCEDC Assistant VP), Stacey Pheffer Amato (Assemblywoman, 23rd District, Southern Queens and Rockaway), Deb Jordan (Senior Project Manager, Skanska), Rich Cote (NYCEDC Executive VP), Phillip Grant (NYCEDC Senior VP), and Nichol Nunez (Project Manager, Skanska) celebrate the first ferry landing installation at Beach 108th Street in Far Rockaway. This is the first of eleven landings that Skanska built on Staten Island to reach its final destination as part of the city’s expansion of the ferry system. Photo via Skanksa.

The community in the Rockaways seems excited for the arrival of City Wide Ferry. As the press event commenced, a family drove by in an SUV, honked and cheered “Yeah ferry!. Stay tuned for more news on the City Wide Ferry as the city prepares for launch this summer.

Next, look at what the vessels will look like on the Citywide Ferry Service.