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July 15, 2016

Project to Reduce Flooding and Improve Water Reliability in Fresh Meadows Finishes a Year Ahead of Schedule

Former DDC Intern Managed Project – Now His First Project as a DDC Resident Engineer

Crews work to spread asphalt on a road.

Shavone Williams
Public Information Officer

Dan Leibel
Junior Public Information Officer

Queens, NY—A $1.8 million project to install new storm sewers and replace existing sewers and water mains in Fresh Meadows, Queens was recently completed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction more than one year ahead of schedule. The project, which began in January 2016, had been originally scheduled to conclude in June 2017.

The work – on 58th Avenue, 183rd, 184th and 185th Streets – will improve street drainage and reduce stormwater overflows that affect harbor water quality. It also improves the reliability of the local water delivery system by replacing water mains that were approximately 60 years old. The project was managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“DDC shares Mayor de Blasio’s goals of creating a stronger, sustainable and more resilient City,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We’re very glad to be able to deliver a quality project to the Fresh Meadows neighborhood ahead of schedule and in close collaboration with the community.”

A freshly paved road completed by DDC.
Improvements to infrastructure between 183rd and 185th Streets on 58th Avenue in Fresh Meadows were completed by DDC more than one year ahead of schedule.

Frequent communication between DDC, the local Community Board, other City agencies, local residents, nearby schools and private utility companies facilitated efficient construction, explained Charlie Martinez, the project’s Resident Engineer who began his DDC career in 2012 as a Civil Engineering Intern.

“Teamwork was essential,” said Martinez. “It takes a lot of coordination to finish ahead of schedule and this project displayed some great cooperation and communication between Community Board 11, the Department of Environmental Protection, DDC’s planning and construction teams, and private utility companies.”

A portrait of Charlie Martinez, DDC Resident Engineer.
Charlie Martinez, 29, started at DDC in 2012 as a Civil Engineering Intern and recently became a Resident Engineer.

To protect students from potential construction hazards, bus stops for students at local schools were temporarily moved one block from their original locations along 58th Avenue.

“There are a lot of children in the area and we wanted to provide a safe commute for students, so we relocated the bus stops and made sure the community knew about the new locations while work was being done,” said DDC’s Community Construction Liaison Tania Payman. “The community was easy to work with because everybody was so understanding. Since we finished work before the school year was done, we brought back the original bus stops and communicated to parents and students that they could resume normal routines. There were no complaints. The residents were very helpful.”

“Tania, Charlie and the DDC’s project team were great in taking everybody’s questions and concerns,” said Susan Seinfeld, District Manager for Community Board 11. “The project had been requested for a long time. When DDC came in it was quieter than expected. The project didn’t cause any problems, which is rare.”

In order to improve the roads and not leave trench lines in the asphalt, DDC and DEP agreed to repave the roadways curb-to-curb instead of just refilling construction trenches. Overall, 1,300 feet of water mains were installed, along with 590 feet of storm sewers connected to 10 new catch basins on the street. Fourteen manholes were installed for access to the sewer systems and four new fire hydrants were placed.

Martinez, 29, is a Bronx resident who serves in the Bronx/North Queens infrastructure unit of DDC. He joined the department in 2012 as a Civil Engineering Intern and quickly worked his way up in the infrastructure division. This project was his first as a resident engineer. Born and educated in the Dominican Republic, he was inspired to become a civil engineer upon witnessing the dirt road he lived on being paved when he was eight years old.

“Seemingly out of nowhere one day, trucks came in and paved the roads,” Martinez said. “Suddenly we could ride our bikes in the smooth street and play without worrying about rocks and other debris. It was a great feeling and I wanted to provide other people with that excitement. I remember turning to my mom and saying ‘I want to do that.’”

Martinez hopes he can possibly inspire a future generation of engineers, including students at nearby Francis Lewis High School who often stopped to observe the work on their way home from school.

“Every time you see something you’re not used to seeing you become interested,” he said. “Even though the construction is underground and residents might not think about it in the future, as they would about an easily noticeable public building, it's a project the community needed. A full generation of people will never have to worry about flooding and water main breaks. Knowing that you've helped the community as an engineer feels very rewarding.”

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit