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City maps Expy. sewer plan

The DEP has been working to find a solution for severe flooding issues that have plagued dozens of residential blocks in Linden Hill and Whitestone along the eastern side of the Whitestone Expressway since the hulking roadway was constructed decades ago. The small swath of land has never had any connection to the city's sewer drainage system, which was not a problem until the Whitestone Expressway was built, becoming a barrier for rainwater as it naturally drained towards nearby Flushing Bay. "The Expressway literally became like a dam," said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who has been working with the DEP to fix the problem for nearly six years.A spokesperson for the DEP said the agency is now working on final plans to construct a 1.2-mile pipeline that will carry water collecting in the neighborhoods - which stretch from the Cross Island Parkway south to 29th Ave. - south along the Whitestone Expressway service road and into the mouth of Flushing Bay near College Point Boulevard.The plan, which the DEP estimates will cost between $60 million and $70 million, will also see a sewer system installed in the neighborhoods themselves that will connect to the large pipe, which will be about 9 feet in diameter. The plan is the latest solution proposed for the problem by the city agency. Liu said the DEP originally proposed using seepage basins - deep holes that collect rainwater and naturally disperse it back into the soil over time - in 2003, but quickly decided it would not meet the neighborhood's needs. The next year, the DEP proposed drilling underneath the Whitestone Expressway itself using "micro-tunneling technology" which would allow them to complete the project without shutting down the busy highway. However, Liu said the DEP recently determined that legal issues with The New York Times, which operates a printing plant in nearby College Point Corporate Park, and other physical obstacles forced the city agency to reevaluate their plan. "That made the plan that they proposed in '04 difficult if not impossible," Liu said. The DEP estimates the project will take approximately six years to complete and hopes to begin construction by the end of the year. Liu said he will believe it when he sees it. "I've been told a few years now that it will begin at the end of the year," he said.Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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