Clay pipes, chosen for durability, will be part of the neighborhood's new storm sewer system.
NYC-DDC Clay pipes, chosen for durability, will be part of the neighborhood's new storm sewer system.

A $15.2 million infrastructure project in College Point, N.Y. is replacing old cast iron water mains, replacing sanitary sewer lines, and installing a new storm sewer system in an area that has experienced street flooding as well as sewage overflows into local waterways from combined sewers during storms. The project is being managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and is currently on track to be completed in summer 2018, three months ahead of the original schedule.

The project encompasses close to 20 blocks south of Hermon Macneil Park, including sections of College Place, 9th Avenue, 119th Street, and several adjoining streets. Since the project began in summer 2016, over 8,700 linear feet of cast iron water mains dating from approximately 1923 have already been replaced with new, more durable ductile iron pipes.

“This project increases the reliability of water service in the area, and will also improve drainage and local harbor water quality in the East River near Flushing Bay,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “By replacing water mains and removing old combined sewer systems, DDC and DEP help fulfill Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision for a more healthy and resilient City.”

In order to eliminate combined sewer overflows in the neighborhood, over 6,000 feet of new storm sewers are going to be installed that will drain into the East River at a point just east of Macneil Park, giving the community for the first time a separate storm sewer system. Numerous catch basins will also be installed throughout the community to capture storm water from streets.

The existing combined sewer system will then be converted into a sanitary sewer system and joined with an additional 2,900 feet of new sanitary sewer lines being installed under the project. Sanitary waste from the area is treated at DEP’s Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant on Powell Cove Boulevard. The result will be completely separate storm and sanitary sewer systems for the neighborhood. The project also entails road resurfacing after all pipework is completed.

The project is being inspected by DDC Civil Engineering Intern Angkita Podder, 22, who lives in Elmhurst and graduated from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in May 2016 with a degree in Civil Engineering and a minor in Construction Management.

Angkita Podder, DDC's Civil Engineering Intern on the project, peers through a section of 42-inch reinforced concrete storm sewer, one of many being installed along College Place.
NYC-DDC Angkita Podder, DDC's Civil Engineering Intern on the project, peers through a section of 42-inch reinforced concrete storm sewer, one of many being installed along College Place.

Podder began as a trainee but was recently promoted to be an inspector to analyze the technical portion of this project. She executes her main role as inspector by being detail oriented and attentive to field conditions. She works closely with the Resident Engineer to solve any problems that may arise during construction. She has been effective in inspecting the work of the contractors and construction crews and continues to learn on the job.

“Everyone is a team player here,” said Podder, who attributed progress to good communication between engineers and contractors. “If anything is wrong, everybody knows. We communicate well and problem solve together.”

Podder said her interest in engineering stems from a desire to improve her community, and she emphasized the importance of accommodating residents’ needs when working on local streets.

“We have to respect their boundaries and we have to be considerate of their needs,” said Podder, “and I think we accomplish that. Ever since I decided to pursue a career, I knew I wanted to do something that contributes to society. In civil engineering you are directly helping the community and it’s a pleasure to work where I’m from, in Queens.”

The General Contractor on the project is Inter Contracting Corp. HDR Architecture & Engineering provides the Resident Engineer Inspection Service.