BY ANGELA MATUA
Hamilton Beach residents will soon see an end to the roller coaster they have been experiencing when driving through 104th Street.
Representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT) said they would finally get started on repairing the road, which residents have been demanding for years.
Work is anticipated to start in the fall of this year and will include roadway resurfacing, according to a representative.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will fund the repairs since they decided the damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy, though Hamilton Beach Civic Association President Roger Gendron said the damage was done well before the storm.
According to Gendron, the DOT told residents that 104th Street would be included in its 10-year capital project plan in 2010. Repairs were never made and after the superstorm hit, the potholes and cracks grew bigger.
“I don’t want to say we were lied to, but we weren’t told the truth,” Gendron said.
Everyone who enters and exits Hamilton Beach must drive through 104th Street, making the street even more dangerous since people sometimes swerve to avoid potholes, Gendron said.
Buses also run through 104th Street, and potholes formed near the bus stops. Additionally, there is no sidewalk where riders can wait to board, so they are forced to wait on the street.
Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10 says the repairs are “long overdue.”
“The community has had to put up with conditions not conducive to safe driving because of the potholes and the ripples in the street,” Bratton said. “It’s not been a good situation for this community.”
Gendron said the DOT has filled a few potholes but the work has not been substantial enough. The DOT has conducted a number of street resurfacing projects for Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach’s neighbor, but this is the first time residents here have heard concrete information about repairs.
“This is a giant step forward,” Gendron said. “We’ve never heard about a project until now.”
The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department is located right off of 104th Street and Chief Jonah Cohen said when volunteers come to department headquarters, they end up hitting potholes and run the risk of damaging their cars.
Something as important as responding to a call should not require so much effort on the part of the driver, Gendron said.
“Me, getting milk and bread, I can take my time,” Gendron said. “They’re going to respond to a call, time is of an essence. To have to think about where am I driving, what side of the street am I driving on, is anybody coming? It’s a no-brainer to me [that] you shouldn’t have to think like that.”