BY TRONE DOWD
Rosedale, one of the many Southeast Queens neighborhoods frequently plagued by flooding, recently saw the completion of a $25 million sewer project that will help mitigate rising water levels and improve drainage.
Vincent Sapienza, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, and Ana Barrio, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, announced on Tuesday that the project, located along Hook Creek Boulevard, had been completed. The Rosedale construction is just one of dozens of projects that are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $1.7 billion effort to fix rainwater flooding in Southeast Queens.
“The upgraded sewer management system will have a lasting impact on the Rosedale community in Queens by alleviating flooding and making the neighborhood more resilient and prepared for future storms,” Barrio said.
Prior to the project, Hook Creek Boulevard would often become unusable as heavy rain passed through the borough. The infrastructure set in place prior to the recent construction lacked both catch basins and storm sewers. As of Tuesday, more than 20,000 feet of storm sewers have been expanded upon “along portions of Hook Creek Boulevard, Brookville Boulevard, Merrick Boulevard and the surrounding side streets from 128th Avenue to 133rd Avenue,” according to the DEP.
In addition, 121 catch basins were installed in the area and more than 4.5 miles of new ductile iron water mains were built to replace the older cast iron pipes.
“This will improve water distribution in the area and help to ensure a reliable supply of water for the future,” the DEP said in a statement.
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who has long advocated for the upgrades, said that he was glad to see progress taking place.
“With every new project completed in Southeast Queens, we are getting closer to the days where flooding is a concern of the past,” Richards said. “The community of Rosedale has suffered through not only Hurricane Sandy, but every rainstorm, so the completion of this project on Hook Creek will provide long-awaited relief for residents in the area.”
The $1.7 billion worth of work will focus on 18 of Southeast Queens’ largest flood prone corridors, including 150th Street, Guy Brewer Boulevard, Farmers Boulevard and Springfield Boulevard. By upgrading infrastructure there, smaller scale projects—such as the one completed on Tuesday—will be able to hook up to larger projects, thereby revamping and modernizing how rainwater is handled by sewers in the area. In addition to overhauling the system, nearly 200 curbside rain gardens are being constructed in Cambria Heights and Queens Village to “intercept storm water before it ever enters the sewer system,” according to the DEP.
The process of fixing Southeast Queens’ water problems hasn’t been smooth sailing since its initial announcement in 2015. In May, the Queens Tribune’s sister paper, the PRESS of Southeast Queens reported that a $5 million Jamaica sewer project located at 90th Avenue and 183rd Street needed to be completely redone following a construction error by the DDC. The retry would cost $2 million, which outraged members of Community Board 12.