Today’s news:

Building starts on wall for BQE to lessen noise

After five years and funding from Queens elected officials, the state Department of Transportation broke ground last Thursday on a project aimed at making some Woodside streets a little quieter.

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), state Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and Phillip Eng, regional director for the state DOT for New York City, announced that work had begun on a 12-feet-high, 250-feet-long concrete environmental protection wall along the south side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Laurel Hill Boulevard near a ramp from 64th Street to 65th Place.

“Every resident deserves to live in a safe and peaceful neighborhood,” Crowley said, “a neighborhood free from pollution and noise around the clock.”

Adam Levine, a spokesman for the DOT, said the wall was built in response to resident complaints.

Jean Claude Calvez, a member of the Winwood Gardens Homeowners Association, said noise from the BQE has been a problem in the community for more than 20 years, but got considerably worse within the last eight to 10 years.

“I’m glad that something is getting started, finally,” he said.

Yet the wall is not only intended to silence the sound of the highway. The DOT said it should also reduce headlight glare, debris flying off the highway and pollution and is expected to put a damper on the noise from any construction or maintenance work done at night. In addition to building the wall, the construction will also include the planting of two dozen trees, which will be apple, red maple, dogwood and oak.

Markey said that while traffic on the road cannot be reduced, the wall will “make the expressway a better neighbor as it passes through Woodside.”

Crowley said he secured $1.8 million for the project, accumulated during the past five years with federal transportation funds acquired in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Markey said she got $250,000 for the project in state funds.

But the project will cost significantly less than that. Levine said after six to nine months of design by AECOM Inc. of Manhattan, the wall will be built for $673,000 by Paul J. Scariano Inc. of Brooklyn and will be complete in spring 2011. The remainder of the money may potentially be spent on building a similar wall along the BQE nearby along the exit 36 ramp, but this wall will need a different design as the ramp it would be built on would need reinforcement to keep it standing.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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