FDR Drive is currently fully closed at night until July 19 for the construction of a new Rockefeller University building. This is the first time the drive has been completely shuttered for multiple days in 15 years.
The FDR was closed for one night in May for the construction of the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station, according to the Department of Transportation.
Otherwise, “the last time there was a full closure of the FDR Drive was in the weeks after the terror attacks of 9/11/2001,” said Steve Anderson, creator of transit information website nycroads.com. “The FDR Drive was fully reopened by November 2001.”
The drive will be out of service between 61st and 96th Streets in both directions from 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 1 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and 2 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. on Sundays. Additionally, the East River Esplanade will be closed to pedestrians from 63rd Street to 71st Street.
These exceptional closures are due to the expansion of Rockefeller University over the FDR Drive. From skyscrapers to “micro apartments,” New Yorkers are continuously finding ways to fit more and more people into the same space, and Rockefeller University is no different. The biomedical research university, at York Avenue from 62nd Street to 68th Street, broke ground on a unique building straddling the FDR Drive on June 15.
According to the university’s website, “The installations have been carefully planned to take place when currents on the East River are at their calmest and vehicular traffic is at its lightest.”
As much construction as possible was done off-site to limit the number of nightly closures to 19, the university said. The drive will be closed as a 240-foot-tall crane unloads prefabricated, interlocking sections of the building’s framework from barges on the East River before assembling them into place.
The new $500 million research building will be called the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-David Rockefeller River Campus, and is being built using air rights that the university has owned for over 40 years. The building will add another 2 acres to the 14-acre campus.
The River Campus building is not the first to expand over the FDR — the Hospital for Special Surgery first built over the drive in 1995. However, this project did not require full closures.
Due to the current gaps in service, the Department of Transportation has provided alternate routes on their website — www.nyc.gov/html/dot/ — with weekly schedule updates.