The Cooper Avenue underpass construction that began almost a year and a half ago should be finished by the end of this week.
“After a lot of work, the project will be completely done next week,” Fern Weinreich, the Department of Development and Construction’s community liaison for the Cooper Avenue Retaining Wall Project, said at the Community Board 5 meeting last Wednesday. “They are doing the final paving and markers will be put up and then it’ll be down and we will be out.”
The project that encompasses Cooper Avenue between 74th and 79th streets on the border of Middle Village and Glendale has caused much controversy over the months, but with bright orange signs and flashing yellow lights packed up, drivers can expect a smooth ride this summer.
In the past, water would gather at the pitch of the two slopes causing flooding. The most serious instance was in August 2012, when the area’s sewer system could not keep up with several strong storms. At the underpass, cars were fully submerged, leading many to suspect the construction may have caused the pumping station to fail or prevented it from functioning properly.
However, in recent weeks, there were no reports of flooding despite the heavy rainfall. Tropical storm Andrew that passed by last Friday resulted in the passageway being shutdown for fear of water overflow but it appears sewer systems and catch basins did their job.
In addition to the sewage updates, repairs were made to the underpass’ outer walls and a new traffic island where Central Avenue meets Cooper was added. An existing island on Central and 73rd Place was also expanded for safer crosswalks.
The one request made by Community Board 5 that the Department of Transportation did not give in on is changing the direction of 74th Street, an adjacent roadway that currently runs northward, granting drivers direct access to the underpass.