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City completes Gerritsen Beach infrastructure upgrade

A massive multi-million dollar construction project to modernize the streets of Gerritsen Beach has wrapped up nine months earlier than expected — finally upgrading the sewage system and helping the low-lying waterfront community deal with perpetual flooding. 

The $28.9 million Gerritsen Beach infrastructure project, which started in June 2020, also saved over $3.5 million from the original budget, and took a total of nine months less than anticipated after starting six months and finishing three months early. 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in partnership with the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Design and Construction (DDC) led the project, which was one part of the city’s long road towards beefing up the shoreline to deal with catastrophic weather events like 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the residential nabe. 

Funding for the project came from a number of agencies, most notably from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provided funds for projects like this after Sandy. 

The Gerritsen Beach project was built to accommodate the needs of the community to improve infrastructure in the area and rebuild and retrofit the neighborhood, said the Big Apple’s Chief Climate Officer.

“With every passing year we are seeing more intense storms caused by climate change and this nearly $30 million investment in the Gerritsen Beach community will help to fortify its critical drainage infrastructure,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, who doubles as the DEP Commissioner, in a statement May 3. “Thank you to our partners at DDC for completing these critical public safety upgrades ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Work took place on approximately 60 blocks of Gerritsen Beach and included constructing new pavements, curbs and sidewalks as well as installing new signage, pedestrian ramps and curbs.

In total, about 8,240 feet of curbs, 317,000 square feet of roadway and 64,000 square feet of sidewalks were reconstructed. All reconstruction efforts will be crucial in battling future flooding and damage caused by the storms that frequently hit the area hard.

“New Yorkers know our communities need high-quality streets and infrastructure to guard against the impacts of climate change,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Along with Mayor Adams and our partners at DEP and DDC, we are delighted to bring new sidewalks, pavement, pedestrian ramps, watermain, catch basin, bulkhead and sewer upgrades to the dynamic Gerritsen Beach community. These essential improvements will strengthen climate resiliency as well as improve quality of life and public safety in southern Brooklyn for generations to come.”

In addition to the street retrofitting, new improvements were made to the stormwater drainage systems and area water supply as well as the installation of 60 new fire hydrants for the neighborhood, which houses 4,797 people, according to the 2020 Census.

City leaders applauded the city agencies for their hard and efficient work, with many saying the upgraded infrastructure would make a huge difference when combating future storms.

“The upgrades in the Gerritsen Beach section of Brooklyn shows how far community engagement, innovative design, and multi-agency coordination can take large-scale construction projects – with money saved and construction timelines shorter,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I’m excited to see this project be completed thoroughly and quickly to provide safer streets and sewer upgrades to Gerritsen Beach after the devastation the community endured during Hurricane Sandy.”

One of two new bulkheads created by the project adjacent to Shell Bank Creek.City completes Gerritsen Beach infrastructure upgrade. Courtesy of NYC DDC

NYC Mayor Eric Adams also expressed his appreciation for the updates, saying that coastal resiliency projects like this one are becoming more important as climate change all but ensures the certainty of storms like Sandy occurring in the future.

“The work of protecting our city against climate change is urgent,” said Mayor Adams. “Every month and every dollar is critical. That’s why we’re proud to have delivered these critical

infrastructure upgrades for Gerritsen Beach nine months sooner than anticipated and more than $3 million under budget. That’s how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers in every corner of the city.”

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