Western Queens neighborhoods have their hopes wrapped up in a 5-by-8 foot concrete box this holiday season.
Middle Village and Elmhurst leaders say many residents are eagerly watching a $25 million sewage system project get underway after years of absorbing floods.
“That’s a big sewer. You could driver your VW through there,” Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said. “With the potential for more climate upheaval, we need to be prepared for the future, and I think this is a good first local attempt.”
The city Department of Environmental Protection is currently replacing water mains to ensure the water supply remains high quality. Crews will install ductile iron mains where 8- and 12-inch circular pipes carry water beneath 69th Street, between Queens Boulevard and Calamus Avenue, and beneath Calamus Avenue, between 69th and 70th streets, the DEP said.
The crux of the $25 million initiative — upgrading two, 8-foot circular sewer lines by replacing them with 5-by-8 foot barrel lines — is scheduled to begin in early spring, according to the city Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the DEP-funded project. Construction is expected to end in spring 2016.
DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said the work should mitigate flooding in surrounding communities.
“This $25 million investment will add significant capacity to the sewer system, help to better manage the stormwater that drains to this low-lying neighborhood and reduce flooding,” she said in a statement.
Giordano said several homes flooded during August 2007 and 2012 storms and additional storage space would be welcome.
Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Park Civic Association, said families clustered in the 70s — near 71st, 72nd and 74th streets and Penelope and Furmanville avenues — have suffered from flooding for decades.
He noted that the city opened up a sewer line that previously cut a very sharp angle near Eliot and Lutheran avenues about 15 years ago, but problems persisted.
“We’re relying on DEP to fix the situation. Middle Village, for generations, has experienced terrible flooding,” he said. “Over the years they’ve corrected as much as they could ... I’m not an engineer, but I think this is going to do it.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at stran