The long-overdue capital improvement project that will repair Jackson Avenue will finally begin this spring and be completed by the end of 2011.
That’s according to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto at the most recent board meeting when asked about the project’s much-delayed start date.
“We wanted to make sure it was done the way we usually handle projects like this," Venditto said. "That took a few months, and we had to negotiate with the county on the easements for the sewers because that’s still run by the county. Then we wanted to get the best price, so there was a rebidding. Now we’re set to go, but, with the weather, we can’t yet.”
The meeting was attended by residents such as Patty Santella, who asked for an update on the project behalf of the Syosset Council of PTA's.
“But I’ll go on record here and say this’ll be completed in calendar year 2011, and the road work will begin in the Spring,” Venditto continued. “I know residents are restless, and when they don’t see anything happening, they get upset.”
“Many people are anxiously waiting,” Santella said. “[But] I think they realize the scope of the job that needs to be done.”
Indeed, Syosset residents have been waiting a long time for improvements to be made to Jackson Avenue between Jericho Turnpike and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. It has a long history of accidents, and has become a bane to Syosset residents due to its plethora of potholes, bad sidewalks and drainage problems, and the congestion created by the road-level tracks.
The road heads north after the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway and ends at Jericho Turnpike. It’s remained virtually unchanged since the 1960s despite the current travel level, which was .
The project, which includes creating a center turn lane, curbs and sidewalks and realigning the road, . County funds totaling $3 million were allocated, and , including acquisition and condemnation of adjacent property and relocation of utility poles, was conducted.
The county then secured $3.6 million in stimulus funds in addition to earlier funding secured by Congressman Steve Israel, bringing the total to $7.8 million. A March/April 2010 start date was optimistically set. But in November 2009 federal funds were halted when the Federal Highway Administration indicated it would first need to conduct its own review.
The project sat idle until the town began talks with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. The county and town agreed to evenly split the project’s $6 million price-tag. The deal, , was announced by County Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), , at a Syosset Chamber of Commerce . She said repairs would begin “within the next 60 days.”
That June 2009 start was pushed back after the county when it realized the town wanted its own plans and contractor. Councilman Chris Coschignano later noted in , “We're pretty particular about our roads. They have to be up to our standards.”
This − coupled with the fact the town only passed in and the county finally approved the IMA in − pushed the start date back to November 2010.
The town began working with Mineola engineering firm Sidney B. Bowne and Son to revise the project’s plans. Matt Russo of the town’s department of public works’ engineering division noted in the reason for this was that the road was “overdesigned for what our data shows the road will have to handle.”
It wasn’t until . The board noted at the meeting that what the community’s seen are only temporary fixes to get the road through the winter weather. Venditto added that as this project moves forward the board will hold community meetings and meet with the Chamber of Commerce.
At the board’s most recent meeting, Venditto further noted the town not only wants to repair the portion of Jackson Avenue up to the railroad tracks, but also the road north of them.
“We’ll start on the repairs up to the tracks in the spring, and once those are completed, we’ll want to go more north of the tracks, but that’ll take a little more work to make that happen. But it makes sense to just do it, too,” Venditto said.
“There may be third parties that we may have to negotiate with before we’d be able to move farther north,” added Hal Mayer, a TOBAY consultant familiar with the project.