The Loop Parkway will not close March 23-26 as part of a two-year, $22.5 million state Department of Transportation project to upgrade two drawbridges, after the DOT said that the state and contractor determined the work could be performed without closing the span to drivers.
DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri said that the closures, which were announced last year, had been tentatively scheduled that Friday beginning at 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. on Monday. Drivers were encouraged to access the island via Long Beach Road through Island Park or on the Atlantic Beach toll bridge.
“They were able to find a method for doing the work without any closures,” he said. “The New York State DOT, following coordination with its contractor, is eliminating the closures on the Loop Parkway scheduled for March 2018 to efficiently continue the drawbridge repair work and provide more convenient travel. This project remains on budget and on schedule for completion in spring of 2019.”
The DOT had already eliminated closures that were previously scheduled for March 5-7 and March 9-13 “to efficiently continue the drawbridge repair work and provide more convenient travel.”
Work on the Loop Parkway Bridge and the Meadowbrook Parkway Bridge connecting Ocean Parkway to Jones Beach was announced last year, with officials saying that the project was long overdue on the 80-year-old drawbridges, both heavily trafficked connections to the barrier island that also provide waterway access to many boats.
Canzoneri told the Herald last year that crews would work from barges to make mechanical, electrical and structural upgrades to the bridges. He added that the work is being done during cold weather months to minimize disruption to traffic during the busy summer tourism season. Workers are replacing steel piers, spans and frames of the bridges as well as improving the motors, brakes and lighting.
The project — which began in September — is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019, Canzoneri added. The last time major work was done on the bridges was between 1992 and 1994.
The DOT said that the work would occasionally result in one-lane closures from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The DOT said that there would be no change in the drawbridge’s opening schedule between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The next full closures are slated for January 2019 for marine traffic, and March 2019 for both motorists and boaters.
The DOT said on its website that the project was not expected to conflict with work on the Long Beach Road — over Barnum Island Creek — bridge replacement project in Island Park. Canzoneri said he could not immediately comment on whether recent construction delays on that project would overlap with any Loop Parkway work.
“We have been working in coordination with the Coast Guard, local elected officials, community organizations and various other groups,” he said.
County Legislator Denise Ford said that she was meeting representatives from the state DOT, county Office of Emergency Management, the county Police Department and local fire departments on Thursday to discuss the work schedules.
“We originally had two of these meetings a while ago, prior to the start of the Barnum Island Bridge work projects, because at that time both projects were going to be worked on at the same time,” said Ford, adding that if the Loop were to close later this month, two lanes would have remained open in both directions on the Barnum Island Bridge. “We have commitments from New York State that we need to have informational signs put out — we want to have advanced notification. We’re trying to minimize this as much as possible.”