Photo Courtesy of Councilman Ulrich’s Office
Councilman Ulrich and Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association President Joann Ariola-Shanks probe the plagued patch of Lindenwood.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City has targeted Lindenwood for long-awaited, significant sewer infrastructure upgrades, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Department of Environmental Protection officials announced Friday after examining a familiar eyesore at the northeast corner of the intersection of 157th Avenue and 79th Street, where the slowly sinking roadbed has been perilous for pedestrians and motorists alike for years.
Joined by DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, P.E., and Howard Beach community leaders, Ulrich announced that he has secured $1.5 million in capital funding for the agency for an exhaustive project that will make significant drainage improvements and level the “sinking” blocks.
“Thank you to the Council Member for putting together the funding and the work that needed to be done for a comprehensive fix of this corner,” said Joann Ariola-Shanks, president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association. “[This area] has been a safety concern for us—for people who want to cross here, for people who want to park here, [and] for people who drive down this street when it is dark. We will find out exactly what’s wrong with this corner and why it sinks thanks to the funding that the councilman provided.”
The civic first reported the good news in June. The group also lauded Sapienza for being “extremely helpful” in getting approval for the drainage improvement project from the Office of Management and Budget and the City Department of Transportation.
Both DEP and DOT have patched the area several times since 2014, but the road eventually continued to descend. Area residents have fretted about the swath of street depreciating into a massive sinkhole.
“This is not an easy fix,” Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said.
“Patches have been done by DOT [and] DEP to fix the street and sidewalk, but a full restoration really needed to be done and thanks to the Council Member, [there is] now funding [for] it in FY 2020 capital plan to get that placed,” Sapienza added. “I just want to thank members of my team who have put the plan in place and come up with the process; and again to Council Member Ulrich for his advocacy and partnership.”
According to Ulrich, DEP will enter Phase 1 of the project as soon as next month, with work expected to be complete in as little as six weeks, pending any unforeseen circumstances. Phase 1 will entail a “ground-penetrating radar survey,” which will detect voids in the ground and—finally—provide residents with an answer as to why the block continues to sink. Once DEP detects those voids, they are filled during excavation. A portion of the funding will go toward “lifting” the sinking areas and bringing both the street and sidewalk close to grade.
“This is one of the most notorious flooding locations in the district. This area has been sunken in for a very long time. DEP and DOT have done their best to patch over the area to mitigate some of flooding, but the blocks continued to sink,” Ulrich said. “I am very pleased to announce that I was able to secure $1.5 million in taxpayer funds to supporting this project, which will finally give residents a permanent solution.”