By Mark Hallum
The city Department of Environmental Protection announced the completion of extensive infrastructure upgrades in Flushing to combat flooding in a $71 million project.
Elected officials from the surrounding neighborhoods praised the city’s effort to upgrade the aging storm sewer system with over 7,700 feet of pipes and a 53 catch basin on the western edge of Flushing.
“This $71 million investment in Flushing will significantly upgrade the sewer system, improve drainage, reduce flooding, and provide a reliable supply of water,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has been a longtime opponent of DEP’s bioswale program in east Flushing, a green installation concept that absorbs rainwater into the ground as opposed to washing it out to sea via storm sewers, in favor of more traditional methods controlling water runoff. He expressed gratitude for the effort to bring more conventional flood mitigation solutions.
“The sewers and water mains in Flushing, College Point, and Whitestone have been significantly upgraded thanks to this $71 million investment, which will also help alleviate flooding,” Avella said. “I’m happy to see these neighborhoods benefitting from such a large-scale, multi-phase infrastructure project and look forward to the relief and improved quality of life it will bring residents.”
The new storm sewers are situated along the Whitestone Expressway Service Road between 25th Avenue and Flushing Creek, as well as in the neighboring communities on 144th Street, Union Street, 25th Road, Farrington Street and Higgins Street.
“This project is an example of the quality-of-life improvements that our community needs. The flooding induced by heavy rainstorms has forced many businesses in the area to temporarily close their doors when they could be serving customers,” state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said. “These infrastructure improvements will benefit the residents and businesses here in Flushing. As the representative of a rapidly developing community, I look forward to more projects that will continue to strengthen our infrastructure.”
Along with an additional 1,800 linear feet of sanitary sewers, the project should improve water supply reliability to the surrounding communities. In addition, 22 new fire hydrants have been installed.
“These infrastructure upgrades are an important investment in our borough’s future and will do a great deal to improve roadway drainage and mitigate flooding,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.
As the project wrapped, roads were repaved with new curbs, sidewalks, pedestrian ramps, streetlights and traffic signals along with 166 trees planted.
“Improving drainage and reducing flooding are critical infrastructure needs in Flushing, and I thank the city for working to make sure our community is equipped with these basic necessities,” said City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing). “Flushing and its surrounding communities still have a long way to go until our waterways are able to meet federal standards of cleanliness, and I will continue working with the DEP and every advocate in our community until the day we can make our waterways truly fishable and swimmable.”
According to DEP, this is only the first phase of a larger project. A total of $130 million combined will be going to the next phase — set to begin this year — and Phase III, which has a 2020 start date.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall