Weiner and Maloney secured the funds in response to a request by state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) after an Astoria water main broke on Feb. 16, 2005, flooding eight blocks of Ditmars Boulevard between 70th Street and Hazen Street.The secured funds were included in the $286 billion Transportation Equity Act, in which funding for the nation's transportation systems is reauthorized every six years, Gianaris said. The funds are available to the city Department of Transportation, but the city has not yet committed to providing the legally required 20 percent in matching funds, Gianaris said. Gianaris said more than one million gallons of water gushed onto eight blocks along Ditmars Boulevard when a 20-inch pipe adjacent to a multi-family house that was under construction ruptured, causing millions of dollars in damage, ripping up sidewalks, flooding homes and submerging cars. More than 50 homes were flooded by the break and 17 houses were evacuated.The water main break was one of three last year in Astoria. On July 5, an 81-year-old main broke near the intersection of 31st Road and 21st Street, flooding part of the street and in early fall another smaller break took place in Astoria. Gianaris said repairing sections of Astoria damaged by the breaks should be given more attention."Flooded basements and thousands of dollars of property damage from ruptured water mains are far too common in Astoria and Long Island City," he said. "Three water main breaks in one year is more than any neighborhood should endure. The residents of western Queens have suffered greatly due to the lack of investment in our infrastructure."Gianaris said the $1.4 million secured by Weiner and Maloney can be used to repair and improve the streets and sidewalks that were flooded as well as roadways in Astoria to make them less vulnerable to damage by any future breaks or flooding. "I am proud that the federal government is finally doing its part to repair the neighborhood of Astoria," Weiner said. "This funding will allow for expensive infrastructure repairs that will not only fix the street but help fix the problem." Reach reporter Nathan Duke by email at news@times
©2006 Community News Group
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