Mayors, Contractors Urge Buttigieg To Override Scaffold Law for Gateway Project

Organizations that represent contractors and mayors in New York are urging Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to override a key construction law in New York for the Gateway Tunnel.

The groups — the New York Conference of Mayors, the Associated General Contractors, the General Contractors Association of New York and the Minority & Women Contractors and Developers Association — in the letter to Buttigieg released Wednesday urged him to tap into his department’s regulatory power to supersede the measure.

Known as the Scaffold Law, the measure has long come under criticism from construction organizations and local governments for the burden placed on projects. The measure places liability for accidents on contractors and property owners for gravity-related injuries at job sites even if the accident is the fault of the worker.

In the letter, the groups pitch the Scaffold Law override as a way to save money on the Gateway Tunnel project, which will connect New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

“We urge you to use your regulatory authority to supersede New York’s absolute liability standard. In doing so, the federal government can save hundreds of millions of dollars on the Gateway tunnel project,” they wrote. “This will ensure that federal dollars go towards the critical work of repairing the rail infrastructure of the New York City metropolitan area, rather than inflated liability insurance costs.”

The tunnel project has been a long-gestating infrastructure effort that New York and New Jersey officials have sought billions of dollars in funding for over the last several years.

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