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Answers For West Shore Road

Residents of Mill Neck, Bayville and Centre Island and the greater area turned out in large numbers for a standing-room-only meeting at Mill Creek Tavern last week. The Bayville Centre Island Rotary club hosted a Q&A session for all those desperate for an update on the West Shore Road project. Rotary Club President Jamie Scott ran the meeting, which highlighted guest speakers: Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau Department of Public Works (DPW) Engineer and Project Manager Donna Boyle and DPW Press Secretary Michael Martino. Bayville Mayor Doug Watson participated in the meeting. Also recognized at the event were the three area residents who founded and run the informational Facebook page “Revitalize West Shore Road,” Margaret Marchand, John Taylor and John Doyle (visit www.facebook.com/RevitalizeWestShoreRoad).

Bayville Bridge

The meeting began with an update on Bayville Bridge, which is out of commission due to Sandy. Residents and business owners have expressed grave concern that if the bridge does not open soon, serious hardship will come to Bayville’s economy. 

Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton has been urging for repairs to start and showed the crowd papers attesting to the fact that repairs have started to go before the Legislature for approval. 

Boyle and Martino explained that the bridge’s mechanical room had flooded completely and Bayville Fire Department even had to rescue the worker inside. Boyle said the bridge is scheduled to be opened by April 17, adding that they not only seek to accommodate boating season, but Coast Guard Regulations. She said the Coast Guard can fine Nassau County $25,000 per day if it misses its deadline. 

The bridge repairs are slated to cost about $500,000, which will cover a total replacement of the machinery and backup generator. It was discussed whether or not the room could be moved to avoid future flooding, but Martino said it would take years and millions of dollars to do that, so the only option is what the county us undertaking.  

In order to keep county contractors on schedule, Boyle said they have a 20 percent fine in place if they are late on delivery. 

A final reason to get the bridge back in operation is the cost of emergency openings. There were two emergency openings of the bridge since Sandy which Boyle said cost the county almost $50,000 each time, at about $87,000 total. One opening was for Flowers to get their vessels out of the creek and the other was for boat owners that needed to get their boats out of the creek.

West Shore Road

Regarding the actual West Shore Road restoration, Martino said they are sticking to the target of July 4 weekend, with both directions open. Martino said the workers are averaging 26 feet a day. They expect the project to remain in the $8 to $10 million range with much of the work being reimbursable by FEMA. DeRiggi-Whitton said that the money should be used for the next phase of the three-phase project, stating, “Whatever we get back from Shore Road has to go back into Shore Road.” 

The next two phases in question are not yet scheduled. Boyle explained that a new set of DEC and Fish & Wildlife permits will need to be obtained. 

“Phase One” is the area currently being worked on. Phase Two and Three are the areas north and south of the current construction, which was chosen because it was in the worst shape. (Boyle said that when she heard the road collapsed, she predicted it within 20 feet.)  

Utilities are going underground for each phase. Boyle said that many of the workers on site were from LIPA, Cablevision and Verizon and that National Grid installed a new gas main as well. 

New guard rails are going in, which Boyle said are AASHTO compliant to save lives, preventing people from driving into the water. DeRiggi-Whitton added that they are also more esthetic, as the look of this project has concerned many residents. 

 The speakers also allayed concerns that there will be nowhere to walk. Boyle said with all the utility poles gone, there will be much more room – “minimally 3 and  a half feet the whole way.” Martino assured that hedges will be trimmed as the project moves forward. 

As far as eminent domain to create a bike lane, Martino said, “It can’t be done.” Boyle added that “people have a right to their property,” saying such a process would delay any construction indefinitely. 

Martino urged residents to “give the process credit.” He and Boyle called this the most ambitious project DPW has undertaken in 15 years, and plans have been “30 years in the making.”