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Bayside sewer project set to break ground in March

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A $140 million reconstruction of the sewer system in Bayside is scheduled to break ground in mid- to late March, Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said last week.

The two-year project is intended to alleviate flooding from the area around Springfield Boulevard, 46th Avenue, Oakland Lake and Queensborough Community College.

The water will be siphoned off via a 900-foot tunnel to Alley Creek and then Long Island Sound. A waterfall park in Oakland Ravine is slated to be built in a later phase of the project.

Iannece initially pushed the project several years ago when he was head of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.

Work is expected to begin the third week of March with a groundbreaking ceremony to be scheduled shortly beforehand, Iannece said.

Beginning on Bell Boulevard between 53rd and 56th avenues, the first phase of the project will be replacing sewer lines with new 18-inch pipes. That phase is expected to take 18 months, Iannece said.

A recent meeting of a Community Board 11 subcommittee and a followup with Borough President Helen Marshall last week brought project planners together to move the process forward.

Iannece said some local residents were initially apprehensive about the project when it was first proposed, especially residents along 46th Avenue who feared access to their driveways would be cut off.

But Iannece said that opposition dropped off as the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which is overseeing the work, and the project’s contractor worked to accommodate residents’ needs.

DEP was unable to provide information about the project as of press time.

Don Black, president of the co-op board at the nearby Lakeside Towers residential high rise, has remained staunch in his opposition to the project but has not attended recent public meetings to speak out against what he called “a foregone conclusion.”

He expressed concern that the streets in front of the complex would be ripped up “for a long period of time” and that trees creating a natural barrier to noise and pollution from the Cross Island Parkway would suffer the same fate.

“I’m discouraged by the whole thing,” Black said. “It really is frustrating.”

Other problems Black foresaw were odors from sewer work and the inability of ambulances to get to elderly residents of Lakeside Towers due to lane closures associated with the construction.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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