Once delayed and much dreaded, the Linden Place sewer project is about to start in Flushing—a project that will affect traffic as well as make life difficult for the people who live there.
Already put off for a year, the massive 14-month project is expected to begin within the next two to three weeks, according to Community Board 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman.
The plan calls for the installation of sanitary and storm sewers and water mains, implemented in stages to lessen the impact on the area.
And although community leaders and residents are dreading the upcoming inconveniences, everyone agrees it is a necessary project.
“It has to be done,” Bitterman said. “It has been delayed already and there are flooding problems in the area.”
The project is expected to impact the greatest on the Mitchell-Linden housing complex, where residents of Linden Tower Number 5 will be blocked from using one entrance to the parking garage and lot.
Bitterman met with the co-op on Monday and explained that the engineers have been very cooperative and plan to meet on a regular basis with residents for updates on the project.
“This project has been in the budget for many years,” she said, “and I have asked the Sanitation Department to lift alternate side parking signs in the affected area.”
She noted that PS 214 is in the area and construction continues on a new early childhood center off Linden so that lifting the restrictions will be a big help in eliminating additional traffic congestion.
The project will be broken down into three phases. The first part will include the installation of water mains on 31st Road, between Linden Place and 137th Street.
Under the plan, one lane of traffic westbound will be the main feeder to the Whitestone and Van Wyck Expressways. That is expected to take three weeks.
Phase 2, considered more serious, will take six months and will involve the complete closing of Linden Place from 32nd Avenue to the Whitestone Expressway service road northbound.
“Traffic wanting to go to the expressway will have to go up to 20th Avenue, which is already congested due to the College Point Mall,” Bitterman said.
She added that traffic control agents will be stationed in the area and there will be bi-weekly meetings with the contractor and the city Department of Design and Construction.
Phase 2 is when the co-op will be most affected by the project.
Phase 3 will include the Whitestone Expressway from Linden Place to 25th Road. No time schedule has been set for its completion.
And officials say that shoppers should be warned that the project will continue through the Christmas holidays, when the Whitestone Expressway is already impacted by heavy traffic to the mall.
The project was originally cancelled for 2000 because Bitterman wanted to delay it until the opening of the movie theater complex on the other side of the expressway and because of the holiday shopping at the then newly completed College Point Mall.
Herbert Stark, president of the nearby Mitchell-Linden Civic Association, said that the project is going to be a drivers’ headache but that it is a necessary evil.
“We’ve been waiting for this project for 14 years,” he said. “The flooding is so bad now that the Whitestone service road, from Linden Place to 137th Street, is often under water.”
Although Stark’s home is not affected, he said anyone driving in the area and especially residents of Linden Tower Number 5 will be hard hit.
“It will be a traffic nightmare,” Stark added. “But we met this (Monday) morning and told the contractors our other concerns, which are how the vibrations will affect building foundations.”
He said that residents are also worried about rats, which often are a problem during sewer project construction.
“They are aware of our concerns and will keep them in mind,” Stark added.