By KATIE HOOS
Plagued by dust, noise, damaged property and raw sewage exposure, residents adjacent to the Jefferson Avenue Bridge construction site have gotten more than they bargained for and are looking to village officials for answers.
Construction began on the bridge in September 2012 to increase the space between the roadway and the underlying Mamaroneck River, with the intention of alleviating flooding in the surrounding area. Despite an original expected completion date of November 2013, construction efforts have continuously been road-blocked by poor weather conditions and a burst sewage pipe—leaking 3 million gallons of raw sewage into the Mamaroneck River in March 2013—which has delayed completion indefinitely.
Gina von Eiff, who resides at 220 Jefferson Ave., has voiced her concerns to village officials regarding the safety of nearby homeowners during the construction.
“The dust has been horrific; the street is coated in dust and dirt and it gets into the house,” she said, blaming the dust for worsening her asthma condition. “This past summer was my worst asthmatic year.”
Von Eiff said she has gotten used to the inconvenience of traveling further through the village to get to the other side of the bridge, but the carelessness of village officials and the Arben Group—the contractor chosen by the village to complete the bridge construction—in regards to the burst sewage line has been inexcusable.
“It took weeks to cover the manhole that was spewing a mist of raw sewage,” von Eiff said, noting how the nauseating smell of sewage permeated the air as crews repaired the broken line. “There are many health reports that show how dangerous that is.”
A study on the water contamination by The River Project, a New York City-based environmental group, found an extremely high level—higher than what is deemed safe for human contact by the state Department of Environmental Conservation—of bacteria found in human intestines in the Mamaroneck River.
As a result of the sewage line break, the Village of Mamaroneck was fined $17,000 by the DEC.
In addition to the health concerns neighborhood residents faced, Carmen Peña, whose property at 200 Jefferson Ave. borders the east entrance to the bridge, has experienced a plethora of disturbances over the course of the construction.
In a Jan. 12 email from Peña to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, Peña details a list of complaints and property damage her family has incurred, including the removal of a pillar and fencing by the edge of her property.
The pillar and fencing have not yet been replaced and a concrete structure has extended to Peña’s driveway.
Peña also wrote that gas lines and water lines have been shut off at times, garbage and recycling pick-up are irregular and objects have fallen and broken as a result of her house shaking from the construction.
Feeling there is no end in sight as construction is currently at a stand still, Peña concluded the email by writing, “At this point, I believe I know what our next step should be! I hope you know yours.”
Slingerland said he is planning to meet with Peña in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.
The village also received complaints from Picone Meat Specialties, a butcher and meat manufacturer located at 180 Jefferson Ave., which requested accommodations be made to improve storefront access.
Daniel Sarnoff, assistant village manager, noted in his Feb. 15, 2013, bi-monthly report to Slingerland that Picone’s requests included improved site access during snow clearing operations, the permission to relocate construction cones and barrels during deliveries, and a sign stating that the shop remains open during construction.
A June 6, 2013, letter from the Arben Group to the village also stated that Picone’s parking lot has settled as deep as one-foot in spots and that the construction group will repair it. The lot is currently roped-off and has not yet been repaired.
As bridge construction remains on pause due to the cold weather, an end date for the inconveniences that the project has brought upon nearby residents still hangs up in the air with some beginning to question the effectiveness of this year-and-a-half-long headache.
“All the money we spent on this bridge and what it does for flooding remains to be seen,” von Eiff said. “They could be creating a new situation down the road two years from now.”
Peña could not be reached for comment as of press time.