North Road in Hampton Bays could now remain closed until April 30, more than four months later than originally planned, due to ongoing reconstruction work on the railroad overpass that was pushed back due to poor weather.
Officials from Conti Corp, the New Jersey-based contractor in charge of the project, notified Long Island Rail Road and Southampton Town officials on March 12 that the remaining work, including the pouring of concrete and the installation of abutment walls, require a minimum temperature of 40-degrees Fahrenheit and no precipitation.
Southampton Town Transportation Director Thomas Neely said he expressed “deep concern” to both the LIRR and Conti for the delay, noting that he was given nearly no advance notice of the delays.
The train trestle work is part of a $26.2 million project undertaken by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to repair the North Road train overpass, as well as the train overpasses on Montauk Highway and at the Shinnecock Canal. The work on North Road was originally slated to be complete by the start of this year, but was pushed back first to the end of February, then to March 15, and now through the end of April.
The road connects Montauk and Sunrise highways and has been blocked off since January 4, marking the third time that the construction forced the rerouting of vehicular traffic about a mile east to Peconic Road. North Road first closed in January 2012 and reopened before Memorial Day, and then closed a second time last September before reopening at the end of October due to the same renovations.
Garrett Frank, the project manager for Conti, explained in a letter sent to the LIRR that the contractor understands the inconvenience, but added that single-lane closures would create a public safety hazard. He added that the contractor had increased crew sizes to speed up the remaining work, which includes painting, anti-graffiti coating on the bridge, the pouring of concrete, shoulder restoration and construction of the abutment walls.
John Sucharski, a project manager for the LIRR, wrote in an email to Mr. Neely that the road will be reopened next month, possibly as early as the first week of April, even if it begins with single-lane openings.
Adam Ortiz, who resides off North Road, said his children have to wake up earlier in order to catch the school bus that takes them to Hampton Bays middle and high schools.
“This constant changing of dates is really demoralizing,” he said. “It gives a sense of anticipation that is never realized. I have no faith that they are going to be finished April 30th—no faith whatsoever.”
The Hampton Bays School District has paid for an extra bus to bring students to school on time at a cost of about $6,000 per month, Business Administrator Larry Luce said this week. The road will have been closed six months if it reopens at the end of April.
“We inquired early on about reimbursement for this unfunded mandate but were told that costs of that nature were not included in the project, so I’m not hopeful that reimbursement will happen,” Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen wrote in an email.
Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for MTA, said the work on the Montauk Highway and Shinnecock Canal overpasses, which could result in single-lane closures, has a final completion date of July 1, 2013, though the majority construction should be complete by Memorial Day.