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Bell Blvd. sewer collapse complicates life in Bayside

Construction workers at the work site said the sewer collapsed about three...

By Sophia Chang

A sewer running under Bell Boulevard between 42nd and 43rd avenues has collapsed and left the block under heavy construction, rerouted traffic, and affected local businesses.

Construction workers at the work site said the sewer collapsed about three weeks ago.

“There’s a big hole that goes about 30 feet down,” one worker said. He said the sewer was “decrepit” and collapsed due to age. The workers said they were called immediately to the site after the collapse and were installing a new sewer pipe.

According to John Spavins, spokesman for the city Department of Design and Construction, the work on Bell Boulevard qualified as emergency sewer repair.

“Whatever collapsed is so bad that it cannot wait,” he said. “The rule is that we generally oversee sewer construction on behalf of the DEP,” or the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. In this case, however, Spavins said the DEP is handling the construction itself because of the urgency of the situation.

The DEP said that it is replacing 40 feet of sewer pipe that is embedded 25 feet in the ground.

“This is a large sewer replacement job,” said Natalie Milner, spokeswoman for the DEP. “We got the information that there was a problem in mid-May. We went out and secured the area with plates, which is the first step, and then began to investigate the problem.”

She could not comment on why the original sewer pipe had broken.

Milner said the repair may take a few more weeks, possibly into the third week of July.

“Because it’s so deep, it will take a little longer than normal,” she said. She also confirmed that the DEP had hired an emergency contractor for the job.

Bruce Davis, owner of the Paradise Bedding Dinettes furniture store at 42-03 Bell Blvd., said the sewer repair has had a negative impact on his business located directly adjacent to the work site.

“They told us they were going to be there for just a few days,” he said. “What was a crack in the street turned into a major job. No one told us they would block off the entire street.”

Davis said customers and delivery trucks were now unable to get to his store.

“My business is not walk-by traffic. Parking is bad enough in Bayside. People have called me and said, ‘We drive around the block and can’t find parking, so we’re not coming in.’ People can’t even see the store driving by,” he said. “It’s been dead since they began construction, and this is supposed to be my busy season.”

He added, “I’m a small business owner. I can’t afford to have one month of no business.”

Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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