With $11.2M land acquisition, Adams announces major step in Tibbetts Brook watershed improvement project

Sewage drain clogged causing flood on street corner Bronx NY
A sewage drain is clogged causing flooding on a corner street in the Bronx.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

New York City has purchased property critical for the Tibbetts Brook daylighting restoration project, and now has the go-ahead to reroute the waterway in order to reduce flooding in the Bronx, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.

Environmental advocates have long pushed to accelerate the $133 million project to uncover Tibbetts Brook and extend the Putnam Greenway — especially after the devastation of Hurricane Ida — which would redirect overflow water from Van Cortlandt Lake and mitigate major flooding in a process called daylighting.  

The piece of property acquired by the city from railroad freight company CSX Transportation, according to Adams’ office, is the final component of the beginning stages of the project. The city bought the land parcel for $11.2 million. 

“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to completing one of New York City’s most ambitious green infrastructure projects to date,” said Adams. “After years of trying, I’m proud that this administration was able to reach this milestone and can proceed with rerouting Tibbetts Brook above ground. Not only will this create more green spaces to enjoy, but it will remove millions of gallons of water from our sewer system, lessening potential flooding on rainy days.”

In addition to flood mitigation, city officials said the project will create additional capacity in the Bronx sewer system, improve the health of the Harlem River and provide locals with new green space. 

“This project has been years in the making, and we are so proud that this administration has negotiated the vital CSX agreement to move forward with daylighting Tibbetts Brook – a win for environmental justice, and a big upgrade for the Bronx,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “In addition to adding nearly four acres of brand new greenspace and improving water quality in the Harlem River, this project will add an extension to our Putnam Greenway, connected to the larger Empire State Greenway, increasing recreational opportunities for all New Yorkers to enjoy.”

City Councilmember Eric Dinowitz, of Riverdale, also praised the announcement, calling the project a “monumental investment” in the borough. 

“The purchase of the CSX property puts us on a path to accomplishing a massive feat — converting our aging, environmentally unfriendly infrastructure to modern day, green infrastructure, the kind that is backed up by science to reduce the impacts of climate change, not to mention the immediate benefits such as a reduction in flooding,” he said. 

The project is expected to reduce sewer overflows by 228 million gallons each year, according to city officials. That’s between 4 million and 5 million gallons every day. 

Daylighting will also lessen flooding in areas of the Tibbetts Brook watershed and reduce both costs and emissions by diverting water away from the Wards Island Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility.

City officials say construction is set to begin in 2025.

Reach Camille Botello at cbotello@schnepsmedia.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes