Light at the end of Viaduct

Bill San Antonio

A reconstruction project to rebuild the Roslyn viaduct that has spanned nearly eight years, two phases and a name change is expected to be completed by the early fall, state Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday.

“It should be substantially completed by the early fall. Residents should be able to drive on it without lane closures,” transportation department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in a phone interview. “They’re still on schedule, yes.”

Initial construction efforts to rebuild the viaduct took so long and had so many complications, Peters said, that the project had to be broken into two phases.

The first phase, she said, dealt with rebuilding the half-mile bridge on Route 25A at Northern Boulevard, which was completed by August 2011.  

Renamed the William Cullen Bryant Viaduct in June 2012, the bridge is currently in its second phase of construction, as workers from West Babylon’s Alac Contracting Corporation are in the process of reconstructing and replacing 1.5 miles of existing pavement along 25A that lead into and out of the viaduct, Peters said.

“It’s a temporary situation and we appreciate the patience and support of the community,” Peters said.

The second phase of the project, Peters said, also includes the construction of 0retaining walls, sidewalks, signage, and a new drainage system, as well as new lighting that will be installed on the viaduct itself.

According to a 2011 Newsday report, the viaduct’s completion was expected by the end of 2007, but Tully Construction, the Flushing-based company that worked on the nearly $130 million first phase, wrote on its Web site that design flaws and defective equipment caused delays.

Plans had to be modified to allow Tully to use a 700-foot gentry crane to lay concrete segments, and the state agreed with the contractor that use of the crane would be safer and more effective than using cranes on sloped ground to maneuver concrete segments over water, the report said.

Transportation officials told Newsday this delay cost the contractor $2 million in fines.

The project was also slowed by a change from its initial plan to transport precast concrete segments to the site by water, the report said. Instead, the segments were transported by trailer, which took more time. 

By 2010, as three-fourths of the project was completed, state officials threatened to stop funding, Newsday reported, on the grounds that workers ultimately weren’t being paid on time.

The viaduct fully re-opened to the public Aug. 11, 2011, Peters said, and construction on the $14 million second phase began the next year. 

Construction projects throughout the state, however, were complicated at least somewhat as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Peters said. 

“Sandy hit in October and everything was delayed a month or two, which brings you into winter,” she said. “Construction is typically postponed during the winter, minimal construction work is able to be completed during the winter months, so a lot of the projects began again at the end of March and early April.”

Peters said the second phase of construction did not fall behind scheduling, as the project was initially planned for completion sometime in fall 2013, and began again near the end of March.

During each phase of construction, lanes were condensed, creating more traffic and other safety hazards, and East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz said motorists are still at risk along 25A due to the conditions of the roads.

“If you drive back and forth on [the viaduct], the roads leading up to it are ripped up and bumpy,” Koblenz said. “For a new road, it’s very bumpy. There are so many potholes, and even though they’re begun filling in the potholes, people are still getting flats.”

Koblenz, who made similar comments about the quality of the roads in the 2011 Newsday report, said he met with state Sen. Jack Martins in April to address his concerns, and that Martins planned to meet with transportation department officials regarding the project. 

Joe Rizza, a spokesman for Martins, said the state senator is monitoring the construction.

“He’s been to the site personally and he’s been in touch with the DOT and urged them to take a look at the area,” Rizza said. “He was told that the viaduct is still under construction and that the area was not yet completed, but he will keep on them and make sure it’s completed to our satisfaction.”

Peters said the transportation department is aware of the road hazards of driving on Northern Boulevard, and safety precautions have been taken for motorists approaching the viaduct’s construction.

“The speed limit has been lowered, so hopefully people drive a bit slower, and since it’s a construction zone people are supposed to driver slower and more carefully anyway,” Peters said. “But we are looking into temporary fixes for the potholes and are doing everything we can to minimize the impact, but it’s still under construction and construction can be messy.”

About the author

Bill San Antonio

Share this Article