NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A big infrastructure project is underway in Queens to help alleviate flooding problems.

Crews are using advanced technology to complete one piece of it, with minimal inconvenience to those who live and work nearby.

Crews work on a big infrastructure project under Queens Boulevard. (Credit: CBS2)

Driving along Queens Boulevard, you’ll notice the construction work on the side of the busy roadway. But you’ll likely have no idea what’s going on right below you, and that’s exactly by design.

“It’s hard — not physically, but in technical skills and ingenuity,” said Lambert Monah, of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction.

While unsuspecting cars drive by, crews are installing an 85-inch sewer underground across Queens Boulevard at 69th Street in Woodside. It’s part of a much larger project to alleviate flooding.

Monah said they’re using a rare technique called micro-tunneling, instead of digging up the street like they typically do.

“You would’ve had to remove all the utilities. You would’ve had to shut traffic down,” he said.

In this case, a massive micro-tunneling machine is literally cutting through clay underground. The operator steers it from a special computer above ground.

“I have a laser down there that runs my guidance system,” said the operator.

Meantime, the crane operator meticulously lowers a huge piece of sewer, and workers down below make sure it’s exactly in place.

As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, it’s a 30-foot deep pit. They’ve already lowered in nine pieces of sewer and have another 16 to go.

Jacks push the latest piece forward, connecting it to the one in front, while the tunnel machine continues at the head, inching toward the other side of the boulevard.

The normally two-month job is cut down to only a week.

“You may want to think – Why don’t we use this more often?” Monah said.

He said, in part, micro-tunnel is not always cost effective. But when it is, it’s a quicker job with a lot less disruption to those who live and work in the area.

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