2011-02-25 / Front Page

BCD Sinkholes Need Emergency Repairs

By Nicholas Briano

Congressman Anthony Weiner in Belle Harbor on Tuesday. Congressman Anthony Weiner in Belle Harbor on Tuesday. Local elected officials and representatives from multiple city, state and federal agencies met this week to address the stability of a section of Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor that has partially collapsed.

Congressman Anthony Weiner held a press conference along Beach Channel Drive on Tuesday morning and addressed the continuing problem of sinkholes opening along the peninsula’s main thoroughfare. The recent sinkhole created at Beach 131 Street in the westbound right lane and sidewalk adjacent to the bay wall has prompted the need for emergency repairs, Weiner said.

The $3 million worth of city funded emergency repairs will be performed by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) over the course of four months and will close the westbound right lane from Beach 128 Street to Beach 142 Street. The structural repairs to the bay wall and adjacent sidewalk and roadway will take place at Beach 131, 138 and 142 Streets.

Another large sinkhole was created last year as well and at that time Councilman Eric Ulrich asked for DOT, the agency responsible for that particular stretch of road and bay wall, to fill in the sinkhole immediately.

The sinkholes however are not anything new along Beach Channel Drive. Rockaway Park resident Michael O’Toole has been calling 311 for more than three years about the conditions of sinkholes opening. But unfortunately, he says the city never addressed the problem and now feels the roadway may not be safe for large vehicles such as school buses and trucks that frequent Beach Channel Drive.

“I’ve called 311 for years about this,” he said. “After a while I just got disgusted. Buses and trucks should not be on here because I think there’s a potential for a huge sinkhole to open up.”

Weiner says the sinkholes are a result of bay wall corrosion. To ensure the longevity of both the bay wall and adjacent roadway Weiner announced that another $37 million in city funds will be dedicated over the next four years for several sections of bay wall that exist between both Rockaway bridges.

“We have done an inventory from bridge to bridge,” Weiner says. “There are many overlapping jurisdictions.”

Weiner says DOT is responsible for the majority of the wall but some areas belong to the Parks Department, the Department of Education and even some private entities.

“One thing that we do know is that we can’t have the road sinking in,” Weiner said.

According to Weiner, over the longterm EDC estimates that $5 million will be used to repair the wall between Beach 125 and Beach 130 streets in the next 18 to 24 months. The Department of Education will use approximately $9 million over the next two years to make repairs behind Beach Channel High School and $23 million will be used over four years by DOT and EDC to make necessary repairs to the bay wall between Beach 116 and Beach 145 streets.

The question, however, of who is responsible for the section of the bay wall in some areas near Riis Park is still unclear. But according to Weiner a plan of action will be implemented once jurisdiction is established.

“This is good news for the residents of Rockaway. I’m pleased that our federal, state and city partners are working together to help repair such a vital part of this community’s infrastructure,” Weiner said. “But we have more work to do.”

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