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Feds rescue sea wall in Qnsbridge

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill May 25 earmarking $175,000 for repairs to the 70-year-old retaining wall in Long Island City that is riddled with cracks and gaping holes, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) announced last week. She said she expects the Senate and President Bush to approve the funds shortly. The money is included in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for 2006. The wall - a 200-foot-long promenade that looks like it is crumbling into the East River and has been fenced off for four years - is near Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing project in the country. "It's really dangerous," Maloney said in a recent phone interview. "I find it a tragedy and a disgrace that most of the waterfront is in good repair and then you get to Queensbridge Houses and their park and their sea wall is not in good shape. It's not fair."City, state and federal officials have been pushing since 2002 to repair the wall. To date the $1.05 million already allocated funded a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study. After wrapping up the study last year, the corps initially said there was no federal interest in the project and determined it was under the jurisdiction of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. Maloney, who called that decision "absolutely ridiculous," convened a meeting in February between local elected officials and the corps. The attendees included Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. George Onorato (R-Long Island City), state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood), City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and city Parks Department officials. "It was clear that this was a priority of everyone and they (the corps) reversed their position," Maloney said. The $175,000 will be the fourth stream of federal funds for the overhaul and will go to a Army Corps engineering study. Maloney said she did not know how long the overhaul phase of the project would last. So far federal lawmakers have secured $475,000 million for the project. The city has provided $250,000 and the state $325,000.Reach reporter Matt Monks at news@timesledger.com or 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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