NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– If it seems like street construction on East Houston has been taking years, that’s because it has.
The city says it’s encountered issues, but details are vague about a project that began back when Michael Bloomberg was beginning his third term as mayor.
CBS2 is demanding answers.
A section of East Houston Street has been under reconstruction for six years, CBS2’s Steve Langford reported.
“I can barely remember when there wasn’t construction on East Houston,” Josh Russ Tupper, co-owner of the legendary Russ and Daughter’s appetizing shop, said.
He said loyal customers call to say they can’t get into the restaurant.
“It’s way too long to be doing a construction project that should be in my opinion simpler,” Tupper said.
The project, managed by the Department of Design and Construction, includes water mains, sewers, sidewalks, medians, street lights and paving.
The reason it’s taking six years so far?
The department said, “extensive utility facilities were encountered that interfered with the city work and which led to delays.”
“I just feel like it’s causing a lot of traffic, a lot of backup in traffic and a lot of unnecessary stress,” Lower East Side resident Brandon Jenkins said.
Six years in, parts of the project look forlorn, while still taking up precious space along East Houston.
The better part of a century ago they built the Empire State Building in less than 14 months, Langford noted.
“I think it’s just a way to spend more taxpayer money,” restaurant owner Bahr Rapaport said.
He said some of his neighboring businesses have gone bust.
“It just makes it harder for people to get to the door,” he said.
CBS2 reached out to the city to ask how many complaints it’s received about the East Houston Street work since it began six years ago, but so far no response.
Another question on whether fines have been handed down has not yet been answered either.
The city said the work should be complete by the end of this year, but it’s been saying that for years. Officials said two open lanes of traffic in each direction must be maintained during construction.