SE Queens sewer work gets started

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Most Springfield Gardens residents say they have been waiting for street and sewer improvements for 30 years, but no one argued when city officials pegged the delay at 50 years last Thursday.

A $24 million city project to replace roads and drainage pipes in southeast Queens is scheduled to get underway this month to upgrade water quality and service and ease the chronic flooding that plagues the area, Tom Donnelly, a project engineer, told area residents at an open house meeting in Springfield Gardens. The replacements will span about a 50-block area in southeast Queens, he said.

“This project is driven to be a drainage improvement to fix the drainage problems here, including flooding,” said Donnelly, who works for Daniel Frankfurt engineers, the company running the city project. “It’s been almost 30 years since this started, although some of us date it back 50 years. This should address a lot of people’s concerns.”

The project calls for installation of new water mains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, street lights, traffic signals and street signs. The streets, sidewalks and curbs will be reconstructed and additional sidewalk trees will be planted, Donnelly said.

The work, which is scheduled to be completed in 2005, should improve drainage problems, easing flooding in the area, he said.

“This has been on the books for several decades,” said Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway). “It’s something that’s long overdue and should help with some of the problems we’ve had in the community.”

The new water mains replacing the older Jamaica Water Supply pipes should also improve water quality by eliminating the sediment that has built up in the lines, Donnelly said.

“Most of them are in pretty bad shape,” he said of the water mains. “You should see pressure improvements and water quality improvements as we go along.”

The project covers streets bounded by South Conduit Avenue, Springfield Boulevard, 147th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard. The city Economic Development Corp. is coordinating the work for the city Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, Donnelly said.

Nearly 100 people attended the daylong open house last Thursday and sidewalks seemed to be a prime concern, Donnelly said. George Bradley, a 145th Road resident, was concerned that the sidewalks might be angled toward the houses, sending rain water cascading into the homes, he said.

“When you put the sidewalks in, make sure they pitch towards the street, not towards the houses,” Bradley said. “It will flood our basements and cause havoc.”

Community Board 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht said he was worried about people being trapped in their driveways if construction workers tear up the sidewalk without laying the replacement.

“We’ve had cases where the cars are parked in the driveway or maybe the garage one night and the next morning they can’t get out because there’s no sidewalk,” he said. “Will they notify the homeowner so they won’t be stuck in the driveway?”

Donnelly said the workers would notify residents, but he pointed out that large steel plates can be used to rescue a stuck driver.

“We have been known to put steel plates down,” Donnelly said. “It’s easy for us to grab one and put it down and get you out of the driveway.”

But despite possible inconveniences, the community seems eager to have the work done.

“Finally after 30 years of flooding we’re starting to see a plan,” said City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton). “We have to make sure the plan takes into account the community. We’re going to really put the community into the shape it should have been in from day one.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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