Boro pols laud upgrading of Jamaica infrastructure

By Courtney Dentch

More than $81 million worth of infrastructure improvements to Jamaica’s roadways and sewer systems were lauded Tuesday by borough politicians and city agencies.

Borough President Helen Marshall, City Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), and state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-South Ozone Park), and representatives from the city Departments of Transportation, Environmental Protection, and Design and Construction gathered at the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and 110th Avenue Tuesday morning to celebrate the multimillion-dollar investment in the area.

Calling Jamaica an “underserved” community in relation to capital improvements, Charles Sturcken, special counsel for the DEP, said these projects have been long coming.

“The sewers and roadways have had an historically negative impact on the community,” Sturcken said. “These projects needed to be done.”

Included in the $81 million is construction on sewer and water lines, roads and sidewalks that has been completed and construction that has not yet started, according to the DDC. Almost $46 million in improvements have been done around Community Board 12, which stretches from downtown Jamaica to Kennedy Airport.

That $46 million covers 53 miles of new roadways, 70,300 feet of sanitary sewers, 30,300 feet of storm sewers, 103,200 feet of water mains and numerous curb and sidewalk replacements, according to the DDC.

“An enormous amount of work has been done in a concentrated area,” said DDC Commissioner Kenneth Holden. “A key to the success of our projects has been coordination, communication and cooperation among all parties.”

The DDC has been working with the DOT and the DEP to complete these projects as well as to design another $35.5 million worth of improvements that will be started over the next two years, according to the DDC.

“I am thrilled that so many comprehensive improvements have been made in areas of my district that have been long plagued by flooding,” Jennings said. “Flooding has not only destroyed many of the roads in Jamaica and South Ozone Park, but it has also put residents at risk for West Nile virus because mosquitoes are attracted to the standing water.”

The construction projects are aimed in part at solving the flooding problems that residents of the Community Board 12 area have faced, Marshall said.

“New catch basins, sewers, water mains, utility lines and signage, along with reconstructed streets, will go a long way in relieving the chronic flooding of homes and streets in an area bounded by Sutphin Boulevard, Liberty Avenue, Linden Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway,” she said.

The projects have been focused all over Jamaica, with sites near 163rd Street and Jamaica Avenue, Sutphin Boulevard between Liberty and 111th avenues, and Sutter Avenue between the Van Wyck Expressway and Baisley Boulevard.

“We have the most amount of problems in South Jamaica, North Jamaica and South Ozone Park,” Jennings said.

Iris Weinshall, commissioner of the city DOT, praised the city and the community for their cooperation on the improvements.

“Working together with the mayor, the Department of Design and Construction, and most importantly, the elected officials and leaders of Community Board 12, we hope that all these important projects will benefit the residents and businesses of the entire Sutphin Boulevard area.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.