Hundreds of flood-prone north Queens home owners got the answer to their prayers at a Flushing seminary recently when the city’s newest plan to end flooding in the Mitchell-Linden - Whitestone area was unveiled.
The three-phase project is expected to take six years and cost $60 to $70 million. Phase one would be construction of a storm sewer main big enough to drive a car through, more than a mile under the northbound Whitestone Expressway service road.
DEP unveils Whitestone flood plan
“We were wrong in trying to relieve the flooding with seepage basins,” [DEP Commissioner Emily] Lloyd admitted. “I am pleased to announce that the studies are done and we have a plan that works,” she said.
The area along the Whitestone Expressway presented especially tough problems, Lloyd explained, due to soil conditions, topology and the expressway itself. “The ‘blue belt’ idea of draining water into the wetlands between Flushing and College Point, to drain naturally just wouldn’t get it done,” she conceded. “It became clear a direct outlet to open water was needed.”
Because the drainage system needs to work by gravity alone, the only way to solve the 50-year-old problem is “from the bottom up” explained Deputy Commissioner Jim Roberts, who wielded a laser pointer to spotlight some of the trickier parts. “This is one of the most difficult areas in the city to drain,” he said.
Photo from Queens Courier