Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that emergency repairs to Ocean Parkway on Long Island have been completed and the roadway will reopen in time for the morning rush tomorrow, Monday, November 26, with lane and speed restrictions.
The 15.5-mile long road, which provides access to Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park, other popular recreational sites and residential communities along a stretch of Long Islands southern shore, sustained unprecedented damage during Hurricane Sandy last month.
"Step by step our state's infrastructure is being restored after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy," Governor Cuomo said. "I thank the individuals from the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation who have been working around the clock since Hurricane Sandy to make emergency repairs to the roadway so it could be reopened to motorists as quickly as possible."
NYSDOT, NYSOPRHP and the Department of Environmental Conservation are working with the Federal Highway Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a coastal barrier protection roadway repair project to restore Ocean Parkway to its pre-storm condition. This will include replacing the two-mile section of roadway destroyed in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach and restoring protective dunes between the parkway and the ocean.
NYSDOT and NYSOPRHP are also collaborating to design a project to rebuild damaged lanes to the traffic circle in Robert Moses State Park. The preliminary estimated cost of the work to restore Ocean Parkway and the traffic circle is $35 million, and both will be completed by Memorial Day. It is anticipated that the federal government will provide cost sharing for the project, and NYSDOT is working with the Federal Highway Administration and other federal agencies to delineate federal funding eligibility.
New York State is examining options to strengthen those sections of the protective sand dunes that were damaged to provide better stability and resiliency to future storms. Completion of a major dredging project at the Fire Island Inlet, which will provide sand to restore damaged beaches and dunes, is a vital part of the long-term strategy for protecting the Ocean Parkway and Robert Moses State Park. In addition to providing needed sand, the dredging project will also make the Fire Island Inlet safe for commercial and recreational boating.
The Ocean Parkway and our oceanfront beaches are vitally important to the economy and quality of life for Long Island and our State. Dredging the Fire Island Inlet, beach renourishment and federal aid will all play an important role in protecting ourselves and mitigating the disastrous consequences that come with a storm like Sandy, said NYSOPRHP Commissioner Rose Harvey. Ocean Parkway not only provides physical access to our beaches, parks and communities, but it is our mental access to building life long memories with our family and friends. Reopening the Ocean Parkway is a vital step in the States recovery efforts.
Field 2 at Jones Beach is reopened to the public and Field 6, a favorite to many, is expected to reopen this week. Park officials are still cleaning up the parks and beaches and have cordoned off areas deemed to unsafe to visit to protect those returning. Robert Moses State Park remains closed but is expected to have access reopened by Memorial Day when traffic increases.
NYSDOT is committed to working with our partners on the state, federal and local levels to rebuild Ocean Parkway, which carries nearly 10 million visitors per year to the beaches and parks along Long Islands southern shoreline, said NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald. We will also give careful consideration to options for improving the roadways protective barrier in response to the increased frequency of severe weather, which is a necessary step in order to minimize future damage to this vital route. Because of Governor Cuomos leadership, we are looking at improvements to the entire system instead of working on each repair individually, which is a good example of the approach embodied in his NY Works program.
Ocean Parkway has been closed since October 30. Approximately five miles of the eastbound section of the road and its protective sand dunes were severely damaged; one-half mile of the roadway and 1.6 miles of the sand dunes east of Gilgo were completely destroyed. Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, NYSDOT began an emergency project to restore two miles of sand dunes between Gilgo and West Gilgo beaches before a Noreaster struck on November 6. This emergency restoration work likely saved Ocean Parkway and homes to the north from additional damage.
Starting today, two-way traffic operations with a single lane in each direction will be established on the undamaged westbound side of Ocean Parkway for 4.8 miles between Cedar Beach and Tobay Beach. Westbound traffic will be reduced to a single lane near Cedar Beach until west of Tobay Beach. Eastbound traffic will transition from three travel lanes to one travel lane near Tobay Beach, then crossover to the westbound roadway using an existing center median turnaround. At Cedar Beach, eastbound traffic will then be directed back to the eastbound roadway using an existing median turnaround. The roadway will operate as normal in both directions for nearly 4 miles between the Wantagh State Parkway/Jones Beach water tower and Tobay Beach.
The speed limit will be reduced to 35 M.P.H. for the entire length of the roadway. Drivers are urged to use caution while traveling this area and be prepared to stop. The eastbound Ocean Parkway roadway between Tobay and Cedar beach will remain closed until restoration is completed.
Under Governor Cuomos direction, the New York State Department of Transportation had an average of 1,650 staff people working around the clock at the height of the response to Hurricane Sandy to clear and reopen damaged highways. In the wake of the storm, NYSDOT on Oct. 30 had 163 roads closed in the Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City. Within one week, all but nine state highways had been reopened to traffic. With todays reopening of Ocean Parkway, only one partial closure remains, the Battery Park Underpass.