Mar. 17, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Queens Councilwoman Vickie Paladino on Thursday, March 16, hosted a community town hall at P.S. 129 in College Point to address ongoing construction projects in the neighborhood.
Members of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Con Edison were on hand to provide updates and information on the matters discussed.
“This town has been neglected,” Paladino said. “Homes have been damaged. The roads have not been paved. There are lots of reasons why the roads don’t get paved in a consistent matter. Certain jobs have to be completed before they can go and pave the roads.”
Updates were provided regarding construction projects on road resurfacing, as well as sewer upgrades across College Point.
DDC Office of Community Outreach and Notification Director Maria Centeno showed a PowerPoint presentation going over what work has been done, what is being worked on and what will soon be worked on, breaking down the locations of all this work.
At the heart of Centeno’s presentation was SE 807, which called for the reconstruction of streets in the area of College Point Boulevard. Among the purposes of this project are to improve drainage, alleviate flooding, keep rainwater out of the sewer system, replace an aging infrastructure, maintain a clean and safe water supply with adequate pressure and make the streets smoother and safer.
According to Centeno, this work is a $137 million investment. About 30,000 linear feet of storm sewers are being added to areas previously without any. Additionally, 288 linear feet of new catch basins are being installed. The water main replacements will make up about 40,000 linear feet. Approximately 85,000 square yards of roadways will be repaved. An estimated 246,000 square feet of sidewalks and 54,000 linear feet of curbs will also be replaced. There will also be 585 linear feet of micro tunneling. Additionally, fire hydrants, street lights and traffic lights will be installed across College Point.
An effort is also being made to expedite the work being done. Schedules have been accelerated. Rather than three crews working on the sites, it will be five. With daylight savings bringing longer days, extended hours come with it. There will also be night work done at College Point Boulevard. Additionally, work will be done over the weekends.
DDC also performs environmental compliance through health and safety inspections of work sites. Expert consultants perform biweekly environmental audits, while engineering consultants perform weekly Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) audits. The DEC also performs inspections.
Centeno noted that the work being done has several impacts on the community. While access to sidewalks are maintained, there may be temporary street closures or limited access to them. Sidewalk access can also be restricted in certain cases while work is being done. Parking can also be restricted at times. Before construction starts, a rodent survey is performed. Rodent control is installed by a professional contractor.
DOT Deputy Commissioner Albert Silvestri noted that DOT wants to be able to pave all the streets in the area in need of it as soon as possible. However, they are first required to complete the capital projects already in progress. As a means of trying to address fixing potholes as soon as possible, Silvestri and Centeno recommended people who want to report them to be fixed contact DDT directly rather than calling 311, as the 311 calls may sometimes transfer the requests between departments.
“There is a ray of light at the end of this,” Silvestri said. “The city hears you loud and clear. My commissioner hears you loud and clear. Council member Paladino brought out Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez to show him the locations that you’re all talking to us about and we’re not going to stop until it’s fixed.”
Some community members present at the town hall requested that DDC try to do a better job in maintaining the construction sites. There were some areas where the dirt from the site wasn’t taken care of by the end of the day, leading to it spreading around the area and to nearby neighborhoods.
“If you take away anything from tonight’s meeting, it’s not just, ‘Let’s get this done in a timely fashion,'” Paladino said. “The project manager is going to be contacted on a regular basis by my office. I hope this [town hall] helped you in some small way. If you don’t babysit a job, the job doesn’t get done.”