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NYC’s Plan to Close Rikers Behind Schedule In Dispute Over Design Changes

New York City's on-time completion of a new hospital unit would mark an early milestone in the plan to close Rikers by 2027.

Rikers Island is pictured from the Bronx on Sept. 11, 2022. 

Rikers Island is pictured from the Bronx on Sept. 11, 2022. 

Photographer: Theodore Parisienne/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

New York City is behind schedule on one of the first projects in its plan to close the troubled Rikers Island jail complex, the latest sign of dysfunction at the city’s Department of Correction, which has had 16 people die in its custody so far this year.

A new ward at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where people in custody with serious health needs will be moved from Rikers, is facing delays because of changes that were requested by the Department of Correction months after designs were finalized and construction had begun, according to people familiar with the project. The unit, which was slated to be completed in spring 2023, is the first new facility in the transition to the borough-based jail system that will replace Rikers.