Long awaited improvements to Austin Boulevard in Island Park will finally come under Nassau County’s 2021-24 Capital Improvement Plan, which was announced last month.
Part of the plan focuses on improving road infrastructure, which includes a 1.4-mile stretch of Austin Boulevard. In all, $15.2 million has been designated for the Austin Boulevard project, and work there will start in early 2021. While announcing the plan last month, County Executive Laura Curran said it would improve pedestrian and vehicle safety, drainage and storm resiliency and create a safer and more sustainable corridor.
“Despite the devastating financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021-24 Capital Improvement Plan reaffirms my commitment to restore and improve infrastructure, while investing in the big-picture projects that will improve the county for generations to come,” Curran said in a statement. “
A similar project was slated to begin last spring, but was shelved because of the pandemic.
Traffic-related roadway improvements for Austin Boulevard, which runs north and south through Barnum Isle, include a southbound lane reduction, reconfigured lane widths, raised and painted center medians, increased parking lane widths and new traffic signals with protected left turn phases at select intersections. Intelligent transportation systems, including cameras, driver feedback signs for speed awareness and variable message signs will be installed along the corridor to facilitate daily traffic flow and emergency evacuations.
Pedestrian improvements will include curb bulb outs, improved crosswalks and countdown timers at all signalized intersections. Existing drainage problems will be eliminated in the Barnum Island area with the construction of a separate drainage outfall for Long Beach Road runoff. Additional drainage improvements will be incorporated into the reconfigured intersection at Austin Boulevard and Vanderbilt Avenue/Broadway.
The project involved a large public engagement process, which comprised several Technical Advisory Committee meetings and a community meeting during the study and analysis phase. Construction will commence in early 2021 and is scheduled to take two years to complete. The federal share of the project’s cost is more than $6.7 million, and the local share is $8.5 million.
When announcing the full plan, Curran said it was important to still finish these projects despite the pandemic.
“The county has persevered during unprecedented challenges this year, a public health crisis and economic crisis, which have shown us how important it is that we commit to smart and transformative capital projects critical to the health, safety and quality of life of Nassau residents,” she said in a statement. “This four-year capital plan not only seeks to improve our infrastructure and resolve critical needs, but it also will make improvements to attract new residents and businesses, so we can continue to meet the challenges of retaining our tax base.”
In addition to the Austin Boulevard project, the $1.6 billion plan will build on infrastructure successes that the county has achieved over the past year, including the Roadway Resurfacing program, which will continue through 2024, and the completion of major projects, such as the new state-of-the-art Nassau County Police Department Center for Training and Intelligence and the Family Matrimonial Center.
The plan is focused on the improvement of basic infrastructure, county buildings and environmental upgrades. It also aligns with the expectation of reduced funding, due to pandemic related financial challenges, by resequencing and balancing large scale infrastructure improvements with critical asset renewal.