If it wasn’t for the panoramic vista of the Manhattan skyline at the end of the narrow streets, or the low-flying planes overhead, Broad Channel would look more like a town along a rural coastline rather than a part of a major city.
The small neighborhood is situated on a marshy island in the middle of Jamaica Bay and most of its residents live in small bungalow-style homes, some of which sit on canals allowing access to the surrounding bay. And like most coastal neighborhoods, Broad Channel’s streets and residents are often at the mercy of the adjacent body of water.
Nor’easters, hurricanes, snowstorms and even just an exceptionally bad summer thunderstorm often conspire to make life a living hell in the charming bayside community where American flags seem to grow wild out of homes and telephone poles.
Even more than 48 hours after the most recent rains, giant puddles, nearly ankle-deep, sit at the curbs of West 11th, 12th and 13th roads — dead end streets that branch out from Cross Bay Boulevard on the less densely populated western side of the neighborhood and often flood during rainstorms.
The three narrow streets run parallel to canals and dead end at the shore of Jamaica Bay. The roads are so narrow, residents are often forced to park their cars halfway on the sidewalks just to allow room for two-way traffic. At the end of the blocks, where a yellow sign warns drivers of the impending bay, the asphalt is worn down so badly, the streets are almost dirt roads.
It was four years ago that residents of Broad Channel would see some remediation for the flooding problem, but the project was shelved the very next year. That led residents to form a civic organization — The West 12th Road Block Association — aimed at creating a united front against what they considered “lip service” from government officials. After another year of pressure, Borough President Helen Marshall announced funding for a $24 million plan to raise West 11th, 12th and 13th roads, in 2010.
Yet still residents waited — and waded.
In January 2011 after a series of blizzards, the Department of Sanitation plowed the roads, but piled the snow at the end of the streets, blocking the drainage path for melting snow into the bay. The end result was an icy flood in the street that would freeze up at night and on colder days turn the road into what one resident at the time described as a luge track.
A house on the end of West 12th Road was destroyed during Hurricane Irene last August, and during summer rainstorms, streets flooded so badly that some residents could not even drive up them. For at least one Broad Channel denizen, the situation feels like it has been going downhill recently.
“I know we live on the bay and it’s part of life here,” said the resident, who lives on West 13th Road. “But it just seems to be getting worse.”
Now, Broad Channel residents will get to see the DOT’s plans for their street fixes and get a clearer timeline as to when the work will be done.
West 12th Road Block Association President Dan Mundy announced on the civic group’s blog that Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy as well as RBA, a private construction company contracted by the city to work on the street, will give a presentation of the plan during the civic’s Sept. 27 meeting at the Broad Channel VFW hall on Cross Bay Boulevard. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.
“Commissioner McCarthy and the RBA design team, along with representatives from the Department of Design and Construction, will be present at the September civic meeting to give an update of where the street raising project currently stands,” wrote Mundy. “All residents from West 11th, 12th and 13th Roads are encouraged to come out and participate in this review.”
Mundy also warned residents to hold off on sidewalk repairs as the street construction may also affect the curbs and sidewalks.
“The commissioner has advised that all residents on those blocks who may have received a notice to replace their sidewalk to refrain from doing so at this time. She will speak to this issue at the civic meeting,” he wrote.