Frequently flooded Belt Parkway to get $6.5M upgrade

Frequently flooded Belt Parkway to get $6.5M upgrade
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Drivers accustomed to dealing with a flood-prone stretch of the Belt Parkway in Sheepshead Bay are finally getting their wish: a multi-million-dollar makeover.

The city will spend $6.5 million to fix the highway in two places — between Coney Island Avenue and E. 26th Street and between Brown and Knapp streets — where backed-up catch basins often overflow during heavy rainstorms.

The city is adding more basins and resurfacing the roadways to improve drainage. New guardrails and curbs will also be installed.

Work is set to begin later this fall and be completed by next spring, said Department of Design and Construction spokesman Craig Chin.

To facilitate construction, the city will close one lane of traffic for 11 hours each day during weekdays.

Two lanes will close for four hours each day between Tuesday and Friday, and six hours on weekends.

Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo predicted the closures would turn the highway into a parking lot.

“Drivers are going to be standing in traffic,” she said.

Still, residents said it’s a necessary headache.

“It’s going to be an inconvenience, but it needs to get done,” said Cliff Bruckenstein, who takes the Belt Parkway to work each day. “I’m pleased they’re finally doing something.”

The construction is part of the city’s ongoing effort to rebuild seven bridges along the Belt Parkway from Sheepshead Bay to the border of Queens.

The $500-million overhaul includes replacing the Mill Basin Draw Bridge, which opened in 1940, with a bridge high enough to allow boats to pass beneath it; and the construction of a new bridge over Paerdegat Basin inlet.

But the major construction does not include a proposal by Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) to raise the parkway’s seawall by three feet to prevent flooding permanently, he said.

Such a seawall would cost $30 million more, but Grimm says the one-time fix is better than the current piecemeal approach.