After roughly two years of construction to replace the Barnum Island Bridge — a major artery between Oceanside and Island Park — the work is nearly complete, resolving traffic congestion that the project had caused.
The Long Beach Road bridge, which was built in 1925 and rebuilt in 1988, was inspected in 2012 and found to have structural problems, according to Mary Studdert, a spokeswoman for Nassau County Department of Public Works.
As a result, the county launched the $8.3 million project, contracting Grace Industries in December 2016, to reconstruct the bridge. Construction was completed last week and was “within the budget,” according to Studdert. The federal government is due to reimburse the county $7.67 million for the project, with the remainder to be paid for through capital funds, she said.
Studdert reported that the project fell behind schedule by a month due to “inclement weather” this past winter, which affected the curing time for the concrete. The delay stemmed from an unplanned installation of a fiber optic cable linking traffic signals in Island Park and on the Long Beach barrier island to control centers at the DPW building, according to County Legislator Denise Ford.
The original completion date was sometime in April, and at times, one lane was closed in both directions and during other times, two. But on the afternoon of June 29, all three lanes in both directions were opened for good.
“I’m thrilled we’re finally going to open this bridge,” Ford said, but warned that there were planned lane closures on the bridge the week of July 9 to install permanent pavement markings. The closures would take place at night, she said.
Ford thanked residents for their patience, adding, “We never have to revisit this one again.”
While the construction would no longer cause disruption for his business, Peter’s Clam Bar owner, Butch Yamali, who was critical of how the construction was carried out, said he was still unhappy with the way the process went.
“It’s a joke … [this was] the most ill-run project I have ever seen in my life,” Yamali remarked. He said he was told the project would take 18 months to complete and added that he sustained lost business and observed numerous car accidents that he attributed to the construction.
Last September, Yamali claimed his business had lost roughly $1 million in revenue compared to previous summers, and restaurant staff hours had to be cut. Peter’s employs about 50 people. Last June, Nassau County placed a lighted sign in front of the restaurant to accommodate the eatery, but Yamali said it did little to alleviate the disruptions to his business.
He said he feels the process should have been smoother and faster, and said other business owners from the area felt similarly, adding that he is “not scared to complain.”
Unlike , Yamali said, “If we don’t have customers, we don’t get paid.” Nonetheless, he concluded, “We are happy that it is done, but my God.”