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Major sewer project begins in Whitestone

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After the start date was delayed in December, a 14-month city project to install a network of sewers, watermains and catch basins near the Whitestone Expressway began on Monday, snarling nearby traffic.

Marilyn Bitterman, the district manager of Community Board 7, which covers Whitestone, said the project will cost the city nearly $8.7 million and will alleviate some of the perennial flooding on the Whitestone Expressway service road whenever it rains.

John Spavins, a spokesman for the city Department of Design and Construction, the agency overseeing the project, said construction has begun on a stretch of road on Linden Place from the Whitestone Expressway Service Road to 32nd Avenue. It could last up to seven months.

Next the city will perform construction along 31st Road, between Linden Place and 137th Street, and then on the Whitestone Expressway service road, between 25th Road and Linden Place, Spavins said.

“It’s an absolute mess,” Bitterman said of the traffic.

Originally scheduled to begin in December, the start date of the project was put off until July, Bitterman said, so that it would not coincide with the holiday shopping season, when traffic is usually heaviest. The construction is near the Pathmark Shopping Center.

Although there was little community opposition to the sewer installation, some residents of a nearby condominium complained that they would not have access to their parking lot because of the work, Bitterman said. They also expressed fears about vermin infestation.

Spavins said the city decided to install the sewers, watermains and catch basins because of constant flooding in that area. Although the roadways will be open to emergency traffic, he said pedestrian and vehicular traffic will probably be inconvenienced.

But Adrian Joyce, the former chairman of Community Board 7, said he believes people affected by the construction will be willing to put up with the temporary disruption since the project will ultimately put an end to the flooding that has long plagued residents.

“I’m very, very happy, and I think people are pleased in the neighborhood,” Joyce said. He said talk of the project had been around for at least 10 years, even before he had been chairman, but the city had always given it a low priority.

What impact it will have on traffic will probably be noticeable in the next month or so but not immediately, he said, since so many people are on vacation.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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