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Queens Chronicle

HB sewer project 15 percent done

Slow progress has neighborhood wondering when it will ever end

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:25 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2019.

The $12.85-million storm sewer project in Old Howard Beach is taking so long to finish that the signs posted last summer to explain what was happening have all fallen down.

This week, the contractor said the project is about 15 percent done.

From the time the first backhoe showed up on 95th Street in July 2018, the city estimated the completion date as sometime during the summer of 2021.

“It’s not been fun, I can tell you that,” said Dave Parker, who lives on 95th Street, across the street from Shellbank Basin.

“The water is off a lot,” he said. “And I’ve watched them rip up the street three times — without putting in a waterline.”

The need for storm sewers in the section of Old Howard Beach that runs along the basin is not in question.

The homes on the blocks along 95th and 96th streets between 160th and 162nd avenues were built on land that had no storm sewers.

Some of the water from hard rains ran off into the basin. The rest ended up in homeowners’ basements.

The project is adding more than 2,100 feet of sewer — a little more than one-third of a mile — to the neighborhood.

“The project is installing a brand new storm sewer system where none existed before,” a spokesman for the city Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the dig, said in an email, explaining why it was taking so long.

“It is replacing a half mile of old water mains plus another half mile of old sanitary sewers.

“Plus it’s building a new storm water outfall for the new storm sewer system as well as fully restoring all the streets and sidewalks and curbs in the neighborhood,” he said.

That is cold comfort for residents, especially when National Grid is replacing gas lines in the area at the same time and the city Department of Transportation this week began repaving an eight-block stretch of 157th Avenue, one of only two roads connecting the neighborhood to Cross Bay Boulevard.

“You can’t park or get down the block,” said Parker.

He pointed to a new fire hydrant that had been installed on his corner thanks to the new water lines.

Ordinarily, a new hydrant would be a welcome thing, he said. But the new hydrant had been placed just a few steps from the old one.

That took away two parking spots from in front of his house without actually adding any fire protection.

“I can tell you,” he said, “every single one of my neighbors is unhappy about the way this has been going.”

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