Pumping station poses green solution, traffic trouble

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Without pumping stations, some Bronx streets not only would be flooded, but a bit stinky too.

But in order for them to work right, pumping stations sometimes need work. Or, like the pumping station located in Riverdale Park on West 235th Street and Palisade Avenue that pushes sewage and wastewater toward the Wards Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, it just needs to be outright replaced.

That’s going to happen from top to bottom in 2020, but it won’t come without its headaches, as both Community Board 8’s environment and sanitation as well as traffic and transportation committees have learned.

“When there are construction projects in the community, our committee seeks to minimize the storage areas of material and any restriction of traffic to the fullest extent possible,” said Dan Padernacht, chair of traffic and transportation.

Padernacht’s committee is set to discuss the pumping project further next month — specifically about how it will affect surrounding streets. It will restrict local traffic and parking, but there are bigger concerns as well, according to new environment and sanitation chair Robert Fanuzzi, like school buses and emergency vehicles.

Fanuzzi’s committee was involved with discussing the work at the pumping station itself. The rest, like traffic, is under Padernacht’s purview.

“We plan on having a discussion with the Riverdale Country School and any other institution that may use that roadway for its buses to find out their needs and minimize any impact on their transportation of students,” Padernacht said.

Based on preliminary information from city agencies involved in the project, one lane will remain open on Palisade for pedestrians and emergency vehicles, Padernacht said.

Although Padernacht’s committee is handling the traffic side, the pumping station itself is more in the purview of Fanuzzi’s environment and sanitation committee. Among the things his committee wants to ensure is that the new design matches the aesthetics of the park.

That means the station will no longer have a chain link fence surrounding it. Instead, it will be replaced with a stone-front structure with an iron fence.

“The other thing that’s nice about this is that (DEP) worked very closely with parks to make sure it harmonized with the park,” Fanuzzi said. “It’s not like a government installation in the middle of Riverdale Park, and they did a lot to make it match. It’s stone and it actually looks cool. I like it.”

The physical work on the pumping station includes replacing pipes and pumps as well the station above and tubes below ground. Electrical, heating and cooling systems also will be replaced.

The city’s environmental protection department will install new force mains — essentially lines that move material uphill — that link to a manhole at the intersection of Palisade and West 231st Street. While the new structure is built, a temporary pump station will operate in its place.

The new building will be constructed in the same footprint as the current one, but will take up to 20 months to build. During that time, Palisade will be closed between West 231st and West 232nd streets for a month, and between West 232nd and Douglas Avenue for more than a year.

Pumps have a 50-year lifespan, with this particular station already past that mark, having been installed in 1966. The work has a seal of approval from the environment and sanitation committee, while traffic and transportation continue to hammer out potential alternatives to street closings.

The January traffic and transportation meeting has yet to be scheduled.

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