Written by Marilou Giammona Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
A major Floral Park artery is in the midst of getting new life pumped into it. The 6.3-mile stretch of Jericho Turnpike that runs from the New York City line in Bellerose to Glen Cove Road is undergoing a New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) overhaul. The project went to construction in August and is on track, said Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy at the board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, Oct.16, but its political roots in Floral Park date back to the early 1980s.
“When my father, Walter J. Tomecki, ran for Floral Park mayor and trustee for Floral Park in the early 1980s, his platform included advocacy for the reconstruction and beautification of Jericho Turnpike,” said Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki. “Before he passed on, I promised him that I would finish what he started. Having been part of the early discussions with the New York State Department of Transportation when I was first elected in 2007 and then, the scoping hearings in 2008, the realization of this project carries special meaning for me. It is the culmination of my father’s vision for the North End, a revitalized gateway to the Village of Floral Park that is welcoming and safe for both pedestrians and cars. It is a vision that has been developed and advocated for by many Floral Park mayors and trustees for more than a quarter of a century.”
The NYSDOT began conducting engineering studies for the reconstruction of Jericho Turnpike in Western Nassau County in the early 1990s, according to Tomecki. Under the mayoral tenure of Phil Guarnieri, the project moved into its next phase in 2008, when engineers met with Floral Park officials, who participated in scoping hearings later that same year.
There was a public hearing in September 2008 and the design was approved in 2009. The project experienced some roadblocks due to lack of funding, but eventually resumed its course.
The project went to bid on March 3 and a $21,150,000 contract (according to the NYSDOT website) was awarded to Tully Construction Corp. just two months later, on May 10. The project, which receives federal and state – not local – funding, takes in Bellerose Village, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury and Old Westbury.
Overall construction will include reconstructed intersections, including installation of new left and right turning lanes on both Jericho Turnpike and the following major north-south arterials: Braddock Avenue, Little Neck Parkway, Tulip Avenue, Lakeville Road, Nassau Boulevard, County Courthouse Road, and Herricks Road; increased corner radius at several intersections to facilitate easier turning movements; updated traffic signals to improve visibility and function; and new pavement and pavement markings. Additionally, enhancements will be made to the median to boost aesthetic appeal. The NYSDOT maintains that “these improvements are necessary to maintain the traffic control infrastructure, reduce high crash rates, improve pedestrian safety, and correct roadway operation deficiencies.”
The last major road improvement along this stretch of Jericho Turnpike was in the 1960s, when the road was widened. The current project, which will be built in stages, is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Throughout construction, at least one travel lane in each direction will be open to motorists, according to the NYSDOT.