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Slow And Steady Wins The Race

State DOT gives go-ahead on Operation Main Street, headaches in its wake

 

The Village of New Hyde Park is finally accepting bids for Operation Main Street, according to trustee Donald Barbieri. The final piece of the project has been given the go-ahead by the state Department of Transportation, albeit after a tug-and-pull between the two entities.

 

Construction could begin in late June, early July. The board will open bids from contractors on June 6 to complete the project to upgrade the business district along Jericho Turnpike.

 

The village board had to officially investigate that the project would have no negative environmental impact on the area. New Hyde Park officials said the DOT would receive federal funding and reimburse the village when the work is completed.

 

New Hyde Park faced a recent hurdle when the DOT informed the village that old environmental reports needed to be updated before beginning the bid process.

 

“It’s been a grind over the last few months,” Barbieri said. “They’re doing work on [Jericho] turnpike currently. They’re resurfacing.

 

There are a series of different contractors hired by the State of New York to do the work. They have three other contractors working in the same corridor that need to do the same environmental research. This is just one example of some horrible bureaucracy to get this project going.”

 

The state required the board to change project plans three times and amend a resolution it had previously passed regarding federal reimbursement, according to Mayor Robert Lofaro. The village held an emergency meeting on Sunday, April 21, a first Sunday meeting in Lofaro’s 14 years on the board, to move the process along. 

 

“We had to pass a resolution that had slightly different wording than the resolution we had passed already because the state was not satisfied with the resolution,” Lofaro said. “I expected greater jubilation from [Barbieri] that we were going out to bid, but quite honestly, the State of New York beat him down; badly…all of us.”

 

The plans include rounded corners that would extend slightly into the roadway to be added at locations yet to be determined, along with installation of medians with plantings and access to water sources to maintain the plantings. Benches will also be installed on sidewalks, which would be paved with the same rustic red brickwork already in place in some sections of the road near the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Lakeville Road.

 

“Pavers, different street furniture, lots of plantings…irrigation to those medians you’ve seen built, those types of things are coming,” said Barbieri. “It’s been a long, long, long fight.”

 

The project originally hit a snag in March because of a pending agreement with Verizon and KeySpan to move utility lines. While New Hyde Park has been working with the DOT to coordinate the construction of the project, Barbieri believes there may be “redundancies” and worries work would start and “we’re going to have to upset that work…I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult to avoid that type of circumstance.”

 

The project was originally between Ingraham Lane and Hillside Boulevard. The idea was to set up modern traffic calming features that create a more pedestrian-friendly and safer environment, while providing a downtown appeal for the shopping district.

 

“It’s unconscionable about how this process worked,” said Lofaro. “This [process] takes something [the board] should be proud of. We’re kind of depressed at this point since it’s taken so long.”

 

Work on the project also includes road resurfacing, Barbieri said. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy originally secured a federal grant (about $1.6 million) for the village through a federal transportation appropriation and community block grant funds. McCarthy wrote to the chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in 2009 pushing for the project.

The DOT did not return calls for comment.