East Elmhurst caught off guard by new pipeline construction around LaGuardia Airport

East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights residents are caught by surprise when National Grid began a pipeline construction project around LaGuardia Airport.
Photo by Bill Parry
By Bill Parry

Residents of East Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights were surprised last week as heavy equipment and construction crews working for National Grid began a massive construction project with no notice. National Grid is updating the gas infrastructure in the area from Ditmars Boulevard and 100th Street to Astoria Boulevard and 95th Street.

“As soon as neighbors notified us about the work that was being done in a particular area of East Elmhurst without proper notice, we immediately reached out to National Grid seeking answers,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “It is vital that when companies plan to undertake aggressive projects in a community such as the one taking place, they should make it a priority to notify every single household that will be affected by the work.”

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the multibillion-dollar gas main installation work began in October and was expected to be completed this coming winter.

“The work is necessary to make sure the national gas system is safe and reliable for our customers and communities and resilient in case of extreme weather,” she said. “National Grid is committed to keeping our customers and communities informed by sending notices and meeting with local stakeholders, distributing notices door-to door to homes and businesses along the route and our outreach continues as the project progresses.”

Community Board 3 was informed of the $3 billion natural gas pipeline upgrade project in June, but National Grid failed to inform CB3 of a start date.

“In this case they failed since informing the community board is clearly not enough,” Peralta said. “My constituents woke up one morning and saw the construction crews taking over their streets, and this is unacceptable. I hope this situation does not occur again, here in East Elmhurst, or anywhere else.”

Homeowners in the neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia have been inconvenienced for years with heavy traffic volume on residential streets and the loss of curb-side parking to employees at the airport. This has been compounded as the massive reconstruction project got underway at LaGuardia Airport with thousands of construction workers flooding the area.

“We understand that construction can be an inconvenience. Our pledge is to complete the project safely, while minimizing any disruption to homes and businesses,” the National Grid spokeswoman said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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