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City completes first phase of Downtown Far Rockaway reconstruction on time and on budget

The city has completed the first phase of the $139 million Downtown Far Rockaway reconstruction project in just 21 months. (Photo courtesy of DDC)

The city has completed on time the first phase of the $139 million infrastructure project to rebuild and revitalize Downtown Far Rockaway just 21 months after the reconstruction kickoff was announced.

The final section of the project is now underway and is anticipated to be completed on time as well, 13 months from now.

“The ahead-of-schedule completion of Phase 1 of the Downtown Far Rockaway infrastructure project is a significant milestone in our efforts to make this great neighborhood an even better place to live, work and visit,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This work underscores the city’s strong commitment to addressing important infrastructure issues and creating new and vibrant public spaces for people to enjoy. I commend the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), Transportation and Environmental Protection for working together so effectively on this major project that will greatly improve the quality of life for the residents of Downtown Rockaway.”

When he was on the City Council, Richards led the rezoning of Far Rockaway to allow for more housing, increased economic opportunity and better transportation options.

Work is taking place in an area of roughly 25 blocks, centered around the local business district and transportation hub at Mott and Central avenues where a new library is also under construction by DDC.

“The new infrastructure this project is bringing along with rebuilt streets and pedestrian-friendly spaces will have a transformational effect on Downtown Far Rockaway,” DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer said. “We’re well on track to meet the accelerated goal of finishing this project in three years rather than the original seven-year projection, which we set to meet the needs of the community.”

Photo courtesy of DDC

Torres-Springer said streets throughout the downtown area will be rebuilt and realigned in many cases to “ease the flow of traffic and enhance pedestrian safety” in conjunction with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero goals.

“We at DOT are already immensely proud of the work completed on this once-in-a-generation effort to transform Downtown Far Rockaway through enhanced mobility, new housing construction and improved stormwater management,” Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Hank Gutman said. “Through this project, we are also creating streets that are safer, more walkable and welcoming.”

The streetscape and new open spaces will be further transformed with new green infrastructure including rain gardens to help with the natural absorption of stormwater and other measures to minimize impacts on nearby wetlands and Jamaica Bay.

“Upgrading the infrastructure that supports vibrant communities all at once makes sense and we’re happy to work with our partners to improve the drainage and water supply systems in Downtown Far Rockaway,” Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said.

A major part of the first phase was the creation of a new pedestrian plaza from Beach 21st Street to Beach 22nd Street, adjacent to the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue subway station.

Photo courtesy of DDC

Linking the train station to a new affordable housing development, the new plaza covers about 15,000 square feet and includes a stage for events; benches and other seating; trees and dune-like planters; tables and chairs; and a water fountain.

“This milestone reflects the city’s extensive work and commitment to Queens residents to build sustainable infrastructure that helps prevent future flooding and spurs economic development,” NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb said. “A new pedestrian plaza makes it safer to walk to the subway, and the open space will improve quality of life for those who call Downtown Far Rockaway home.”

The project began in 2019 with the installation of water mains on Nameoke Avenue and Augustina Avenue.

More than two miles of new storm sewers will eventually be installed to improve local drainage, along with more than 120 new catch basins to capture stormwater and direct it to the new sewers. The project is also upgrading existing sanitary sewers, replacing aging water mains and adding new fire hydrants.

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