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Apr 1, 2014 12:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Drawbridge Reopens Two Months Early

Apr 2, 2014 12:30 PM

After being closed for four months, the Quogue Bridge reopened to traffic on Tuesday morning, about two months ahead of schedule and prior to the start of the summer season.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works closed the crossing in November to address a bevy of problems with the 74-year-old drawbridge. Workers replaced rusted support beams, patched up worn down cement and repaired the bridge’s electrical and mechanical components.

The bridge was originally slated to be closed until Memorial Day—and possibly longer—but crews apparently completed the major parts of the project ahead of schedule.

Work is still ongoing on the drawbridge, primarily along the western shoulder, but without impeding traffic. The bridge will be closed two more times before Memorial Day, for one day each, according to an announcement from Quogue Village. Signs will be posted prior to both closures to notify drivers.

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said this week that the county will wrap up the final parts of the project after the summer, though he does not anticipate any additional extended closures of the village’s only bridge that accesses Dune Road.

“The situation is obviously much better,” Mr. Sartorius said. “We can deal with minor inconveniences from time to time.”

The estimated $3.1 million renovation project is being paid for and orchestrated completely by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, as part of its regular maintenance cycle.

Department of Public Works Chief Engineer Bill Hellman did not immediately return calls this week seeking information on the status of the project.

The ongoing work is the second major reconstruction of the drawbridge since it was constructed in 1940, with the first taking place between 1989 and 1992, and carrying a $4.4 million price tag. The bridge, which is evaluated every two years, has undergone two rounds of minor fix-ups since then, including $251,000 in repairs in 1999 and it received a $270,000 paint job in 2001.

It is not clear how much the $3.1 million budget has been spent so far by the county, and village officials do not know exactly how much work will need to be done on the bridge after this summer.

Last fall’s closing the bridge, which links Post Lane with Dune Road, cut off the village’s only connection to the barrier island’s multimillion-dollar estates and beaches, meaning residents had to drive to Westhampton Beach’s Beach Lane bridge or the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays to access the beach and their homes since the fall.

Even though many of the waterfront homes are left vacant during the winter months, Mr. Sartorius said the bridge closure, which the village had no say over, created public safety issues and hurt business.

“It’s inconvenient, obviously, for the people who live there,” Mr. Sartorius said. “For the police department and fire department to patrol Dune Road, they have to go all the way around, and to respond to an emergency call, we have to go through Westhampton Beach, so that’s an issue.

“And the merchants in the village think that they got less foot traffic because there were fewer people coming up through the village from Dune Road,” he continued.

Quogue Village Police Chief Robert Coughlan said the department set up an alternate plan for responding to calls to Dune Road using the Post Lane bridge in Westhampton Beach without having to station a car on the barrier island.

Although he described the closure as a “nuisance,” Chief Coughlan said it had to be done.

“This time of year was the optimal time to do it,” he said. “If it was closed around Memorial Day that would be very noticeable.”

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