Queens residents have had their hopes for safe sidewalks curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Senator Tony Avella recently united with perturbed residents from northern and eastern Queens – who have suffered with broken curbs in front of their homes for years – to demand the DOT “accelerate” their sidewalk repair program.
“DOT is failing in their responsibility to fix and install these curbs,” said Avella, who believes sidewalk repair is a borough-wide problem. “Unfortunately, it’s the homeowner who suffers in the form of sidewalks and streets that quickly wear away and flooding from the street into their homes. DOT needs to stop ignoring its infrastructure and start doing simple things like curb repair rather than taking on pet projects like adding bike lanes.”
According to the senator, DOT informs residents who report a broken curb that their request has been entered into the curb database for repairs.
Due to a “multiyear backlog,” however, the DOT states they may be unable to perform the reported curb repairs during the calendar year – a delay Avella calls “horrendous and unacceptable.”
A DOT spokesperson said the postponement has been caused by a high volume of repair requests, which greatly outnumber the department’s existing resources.
“Through our active program, DOT allocates $20 million annually to make repairs to sidewalks and curbs,” said the spokesperson. “While requests to address curb conditions outpace available resources, DOT’s contractor works to make curb repairs as efficiently as it can by rotating through community boards citywide.”
With reports of a 23-year backlog, the wait for curb repairs has gone from months to multiple years or decades for some residents.
“We pay some of the highest property taxes in the country to live in this city, and it’s a shame that I have had this broken curb for what seems like forever,” said Catherine Andreucci, a Flushing homeowner who has been on the curb repair list for over seven years. “What makes it worse is the city broke it years ago when they were repairing the street. Ever since then, DOT periodically inspects the curb, but it seems they have no intentions of fixing it anytime soon. We have to park our cars carefully to keep from damaging our tires on the broken pieces.”
Along with the daily safety hazard of living with a defective sidewalk, Avella says residents who report the damage risk receiving violations from the DOT.
“DOT has created the perfect catch 22, where homeowners are required to repair their sidewalks before a curb replacement can be completed,” said the senator. “However, with the extended and uncertain timetable for curb repairs, a homeowner may have to repair their sidewalk several times before the curb is ever marked for repair. The city is forcing homeowners to repair their sidewalks on an immediate timetable while leaving them with no idea of when DOT will repair the curb.”