New $84 million project underway to wipe out chronic flooding on southeast Queens streets

Photo courtesy of DEP

City officials on Wednesday announced an $84 million upgrade infrastructure project with the installation of new storm sewers to alleviate chronic flooding and improve street conditions throughout southeast Queens.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza and Department of Design (DDC) Commissioner Lorraine Grillo joined Council Member Donovan Richards on April 24 to break ground on the project in the community of Brookville where residents have experienced terrible flooding from rainstorms.

“With every new project completed in southeast Queens, we are getting closer to the days where flooding is a concern of the past,” said Richards. “The community of Brookville has suffered through flooded streets, lawns and basements following nearly every rainstorm, which is why the completion of this project is so important to the residents around Idlewild Park.”

The project is being funded by DEP, managed by DDC, and is scheduled to be completed in summer 2021.

It is part of a $1.9 billion investment by the de Blasio Administration to build a comprehensive drainage system throughout southeast Queens. The program, the largest of its kind, consists of 45 projects overall, including 10 that are substantially completed and 11 that are in active constructive.

According to Grillo, the new storm sewers will help drain not only the neighborhood of Brookville, but also eventually other areas in southeast Queens that are north of Idlewild Park and will receive new sewers as well under the southeast Queens initiative.

“We’re happy to work with our partners at the Department of Environmental Protection to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people,” said Grillo.

Work will take place on 21 blocks near Idlewild Park. More than two miles (12,400 feet) of water mains, some dating before World War II, will be replaced with new pipes ranging from 8 to 20 inches in diameter. Twenty-five hydrants will be replaced and fire protection will be enhanced with 11 additional fire hydrants installed at new locations.

(Photo courtesy of DEP)

There will be 8,200 feet of new storm sewers and 3,700 feet of new combined sewers added to the neighborhood, ranging in size from 15 inches diameter all the way up to rectangular sewers that are 9 feet wide by 6 feet high. A total of 96 new catch basins will also be installed to capture stormwater and direct it to the new storm sewers.

During the job, existing sanitary sewers will also be replaced, with 7,600 feet installed ranging in size from 10 to 24 inches in diameter. The project will create a double-barrel storm sewer system that outlets to Idlewild Park, and which will serve as an outlet for additional projects yet to be built as part of the southeast Queens program.

As part of the final street restoration, 5,900 feet of curbs will be replaced, 65,000 square feet of sidewalks will be reconstructed and 21,000 square yards of new asphalt will be laid down over a concrete base. The new curbs and sidewalks will be graded to help guide stormwater to the area’s new catch basins to ensure adequate street drainage during storms.

Borough President Melinda Katz said the work illustrates the city’s commitment to improving the borough’s infrastructure in way that will have a significant positive impact.

State Senator Leroy Comrie commended de Blasio, the DEP, and DDC for investing in the infrastructure improvements that will address the persistent quality of life problems that has long affected residents in Brookville and other parts of southeast Queens.

James Salvio has lived in Brookville near Idlewild Park since 1999. He has had to renovate his home to repair property damage that occurred because of flooding.

James Salvio (Photo courtesy of DEP)

“I’ve lived here for 20 years now and there hasn’t been much development until now,” said Salvio. “The streets were raised to decrease the flooding issue before I moved here, but that didn’t seem to work as well as they hoped. When it rains, water ponds up for about two or three days until it dries up.”

According to Salvio, he had a sump pump and a water sensor installed, which prevents water from entering the house.

“Since the curbs are low, the water doesn’t have proper guidance to go to the catch basins to get out of the street, so it accumulates,” said Salvio. “Many times it goes into the basements of homeowners. Down the road by 148th Avenue, there’s a lot of flooding and there’s water from one side of the street to the other. We are looking forward to finally getting flood relief in the area.”

Another Brookville resident, Daniel Woods, who moved to the neighborhood in 2004, drives around the block to avoid persistent flooding down the street from his home when it rains, he said.

Daniel Woods (Photo courtesy of DEP)

“It gets bad when it rains,” said Woods. “Around the corner, the water just doesn’t go down for days. I hope that the new sewers take care of the issue. It’s been this way for quite some time. There’s still a pond of water from when it rained four days ago. They often have to stop school buses from going down that road when it rains because it floods so badly.”

(Photo courtesy of DEP)

To manage the needs of residents and businesses during construction, DDC has a full-time Community Construction Liaison (CCL) assigned to the project.

Haris Hussein keeps the neighborhood apprised of construction progress, coordinates street closures and utility shutoffs and can arrange special requests such as deliveries to local homes and businesses. Hussein works on-site and can be reached at 929-206-5525 or by email at se823ccl@gmail.com.