Highlights of the Long Island Expressway Proposed Reconstruction Project

Readers of the Juniper Berry will be interested in the pending reconstruction of the Long Island Expressway. The reconstruction project is scheduled to take place in Spring, 1999. My office, in conjunction with the civic group, C.O.M.E.T. (Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) held two public meetings to discuss this undertaking.

The meetings were held at two different locations, one in Maspeth, the other in Woodside. Members of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), and their consultant, Rust Engineers outlined the plans. Also present was an official from the New York City Department of Transportation, representatives of the local community boards and approximately 150 community residents.

The NYSDOT explained that the project, estimated to cost approximately $150 million, is expected to last approximately four years. The project will span from the Queens Midtown Viaduct to the Grand Central Parkway.

Rust Engineers, the consultant to the NYSDOT, gave a very elaborate presentation that separated the project into three phases. They stated that the first phase would be from Van Dam Street to 48th Street. The second phase will encompass the area between 48th Street and Hamilton Place, and the third phase will include the area from the Long Island Rail Road Overpass to the Grand Central Parkway.

The NYSDOT claimed that the project is greatly needed. They alleged that the completion of this project would prevent any further reconstruction project for this same part of the Long Island Expressway for about 50 years.

The NYSDOT mentioned that the project was needed to repair the damage and to improve the overall conditions of the expressway. They are proposing to repair structural deficiencies, cracked walls, pavements, bridges, shoulders, medians, signs, lighting, footing, superstructures, and sub-structures. They have outlined suggested alternate routes when working on the lower level of the 58th Street Bridge, and for the intermittent closings of the Queens Boulevard, Woodhaven Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, 108th Street and Brooklyn Queens Expressway Interchange. All community boards involved have not yet approved the detours.

The NYSDOT plans to enhance the line of sight to decrease the number of accidents. They also plan to install an Intelligent Transportation System (cameras and roadway sensors) to monitor traffic conditions.

The NYSDOT insisted that they would do what they can to minimize the impact upon residents and businesses affected by this proposal. They plan to assign a community liaison to be available to handle any concerns or problems that the community might encounter. They will assign traffic agents to areas along the suggested route locations. They will utilize moveable barriers to allow the adding or detracting of a lane in either direction. They insist that three lanes of traffic will remain open in the peak flow direction, Monday through Friday. They have created Contractor Incentive Programs to encourage contractors to complete the work as rapidly and efficiently as possible.

Members of the community have created a task force to address and study any issues pertaining to this proposal. They will bring these issues to the NYSDOT Community Liaison.

The segment of the project that will have the biggest impact on my Assembly district will be the reconstruction of the 58th Street lower level bridge. This work will take place for approximately 10 weekends. This work will not interfere with weekday traffic because work will only be done on weekends. During this segment, they are keeping one lane open at all times, so the LIE will not be completely shut down.

The NYSDOT has been reaching out to the appropriate agencies to ensure that there will be increased enforcement of truck routes.

The deployment of Traffic Agents will assure that speed limits are enforced, that vehicles from secondary roads can safely cross, and residents will be able to exit safely from their driveways.

I have called for active monitoring of alternate routes in order that appropriate changes can be immediately made to alleviate unanticipated problems resulting from the original plan.

If you have any questions or concerns about the above information, and would like to be placed on the mailing list, please contact my district office located at 84-32 Grand Avenue, Elmhurst, New York 11373. My office will periodically update everyone on this list with news about this project.