Hospital Road Bridge gets funding
BY NICOLE ALLEGREZZA
As a result of the Safe Bridges Act passed and signed into law this past December, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) has announced the first infusion of federal money to the First Congressional District as part of the five-year, fully funded Surface Transportation Bill. The massive investment of federal funding will include major repairs and widening to the Hospital Road Bridge, which will also get state funds.
The project calls for the widening and repair of the decades-old bridge with $26 million, which will be 80 percent federally funded. The remaining 20 percent will be picked up by the state. Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), who has been working with the Town of Brookhaven to secure the $5.2 million needed, said on Tuesday that NYSDOT confirmed the state would be funding it.
Plans for a $15.5 million state grant application began last year by the town and was not accepted. According to a town spokesman, the town was in the process of securing the remaining costs with local legislators.
“We know how much strain that would put on the town’s budget and that it would have been unrealistic,” said Murray.
Last year, the New York State Department of Transportation deemed the bridge “functionally obsolete,” meaning it cannot handle the current traffic demand. The bridge, Zeldin explained, is a key form of transportation for residents and first responders traveling to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center as well as the North Patchogue Fire Department.
According to Richard T. Margulis, CEO and president of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, the improvements to that bridge have been a priority for them for over 20 years.
“We see this as a need and benefit to our dedicated EMS workers, fire and police, who travel the bridge in emergency situations on a regular basis,” he said in a press release. “This is a crucial step forward in securing improved safety for those traveling to the hospital in need of emergency care. We are grateful to see this advance and eagerly anticipate the first shovel in the ground.”
Greg Miglino, South Country Ambulance chief and district manager, agreed. The problem, he said, is a public safety concern; the bridge is too narrow and has become a hazard to first responders as well as to patients, civilian drivers and pedestrians during any time of the day, especially rush hour.
“We use that bridge for a third of our calls that are north of Sunrise Highway,” he said. “We are happy that this project is getting done and looking forward to working with whatever entities to make sure the transition is smooth.”
As for suggestions, he said, the ambulance company would like to see something done similar to how the bridge is configured on Route 112 in Patchogue.
The design for the reconstruction of the bridge, Zeldin said, is scheduled to begin as early as this fall, with construction to start next year and be completed sometime during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
The design, Zeldin added, will factor in local first responders’ needs for the size of the widening in accordance with the size of the ambulances and fire trucks. The project will basically be a total rebuild, however, Zeldin said once the design is completed, a more detailed idea of what will be done there would be sketched out.
Zeldin’s office said there are many different ideas floating around. One idea is to build a new bridge next to the existing bridge for traffic relief during construction.
During the design phase, Zeldin will work with the local community, Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, police and first responders to ensure that the design of the Hospital Road Bridge revitalization fits all needs, he said.
“This bridge is getting a massive investment of funds,” he added. “I wouldn’t expect to see anything less than as close to a new structure as possible.”
According to the NYS Department of Transportation, the bridge was originally constructed in 1959 and received a major rehabilitation work over in 2006. According to a 2007 study, the annual daily traffic estimate of vehicles traveling over that bridge is 4,133 heading northbound and 3,521 southbound.
The Town of Brookhaven widened Hospital Road north and south of the bridge deeming the road under FHWA standards functionally obsolete because the bridge width no longer matches the width of the approaching roadways.
“The overall bridge condition is rated 5.047 on a 1-to-7 scale, so it is not considered a deficient bridge,” said Eileen Peters, public information officer for NYSDOT Region 10, Long Island. “Under [Federal Highway Administration] standards, it is rated “functionally obsolete” because there are no shoulders.”
In addition to $26 million for Hospital Road, the Safe Bridges Act and 2015 Surface Transportation Bill have helped secure $8.16 million for preventative maintenance for Suffolk County bridges, $7.48 million for repairs of Suffolk County bridges, $3.63 million in preventative maintenance and repairs for bridges over Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County and $18.42 million for bridge rehab on the Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County.
In 2014, plans for the much-opposed Walmart were denied, mostly due to traffic concerns at the bridge. In 2014, Brookhaven Town Planning Board chairman Vincent Pascale told the LI Advance that the deciding factor in denying the Walmart store application was the increased traffic and failure to provide a safe means of access.
Other area bridges
to be covered
Also covered under the Safe Bridges Act and 2015 Surface Transportation Bill for maintenance and repairs of Suffolk County Bridges include, but are not limited to:
• Exit 55 of Sunrise Highway: Patchogue-Yaphank Road
• Exit 56 of Sunrise Highway: Station Road
• 5.2 miles east of the Sunrise Highway Junction and Route 112: Horseblock Road
• 8.2 miles east of Route 112 and Sunrise Highway: Winters Drive
• .4 miles west of Exit 59 and Sunrise Highway: Moriches-Middle Island Road
• 2.6 miles west of I-495 and Sunrise Highway: Waverly Avenue
• 1.1 miles east of Route 112 and I-495: Horseblock Road
• 2 miles east of Route 112 and I-495: Bellport Avenue
• Swezey Street over Swan River in Patchogue
• Roe Boulevard over Patchogue Lake in Patchogue
• Montauk Highway over Patchogue River in Patchogue
• Weeks Street over Tuthills Creek in Blue Point
• Middle Road over Coreys Creek in Blue Point
• Horseblock Road over Long Island Avenue in Medford
According to Congressman Lee Zeldin’s office, these bridges were made eligible to fund with the act.
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