WOODSIDE — A city facility that's used for taxi inspections is sinking into the ground and only a major overhaul can save it, officials said.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission and Department of Design and Construction are planning to renovate and expand the site at 24-55 Brooklyn Queens Expressway West, which houses offices for TLC workers as well as the main inspection facility for the city's taxi and livery cars.
Officials say the part of the facility that contains the offices — an addition that was built onto the south end of the complex in 1986 — is sinking, as a result of poor soil conditions on that portion of the site, according to James Carse, an architect with TEN Arquitectos who's designing the project.
"The current facility that exists here is actually sinking into the earth," he told members of Community Board 1 during a presentation Tuesday.
To fix the problem, crews plan to replace the office building with a new, bigger structure that will be built atop the existing inspection garage, which sits on better soil, Carse said.
"The new facility actually takes the office building and lifts it up above the existing inspection facility," he told CB1. "Removing the [office] facility from the poor soils at the south of the site."
It's not clear for how long the offices have been sinking, or how officials were first alerted to the issue. The DDC, which is managing the project, did not immediately have the answers on Thursday.
In addition to the new office space, the inspection facility itself will also be renovated and modernized under the plan so that it'll be able to service more cars — about 1,180 a day compared to the 980 that are inspected on average now.
The facility performs routine inspections of taxis and livery cabs, including tests on its emissions, camera systems and other functions. The Woodside location is the largest and one of two TLC inspection facilities in the city.
"We're increasing capacity, understanding that this needs to be a facility that will last for the future," Carse said.
The future facility will also include a parking garage, indoor and outdoor common spaces for TLC workers as well as green features like solar panels and stormwater mitigation. The new building is expected to use 75 percent less energy than a standard building, Carse said.
CB1 members were worried about potential pollution that additional cars coming to the site would bring — pointing out that the industrial area where the facility is located is already plagued by fumes from the expressway and nearby LaGuardia Airport.
"Since you are going to expand, how will you address the toxic fumes that are already a problem?" board member RoseMarie Poveromo said.
Carse told the board the project is expected to make the facility more efficient, inspecting cars as quickly as possible to avoid having them queue up in the street.
"We are attempting to reduce the idling time and waiting time to alleviate that sort of congestion, which would potentially reduce the exhaust fumes," he said.
The city's Public Design Commission will need to approve the plan. If it does, construction is expected to start in August of 2017 and wrap up in 2019, officials said.