By DAVID AMBRO
There have been some ups and downs as a result of the Nissequogue River tides, and it took a few days for traffic to adjust, but the Suffolk County Department of Public Works (DPW) project to replace the concrete deck on the Landing Avenue Bridge in Smithtown is on the road to completion.
The $80,000 project is being undertaken by NKC Inc. of Patchogue. The project entails the replacement of the concrete deck on the 80-year-old bridge and replacement of the asphalt approach for 35 feet on the south side and 10 feet on the north side to smooth the transition between the roadway and the bridge.
The bridge, the only crossing of the Nissequogue River north of Jericho Turnpike, was closed to traffic July 24. During an interview at the job site Tuesday, July 30, DPW resident engineer Jim Bustamante said the job is expected to take one month to complete but that the hope is to reopen it to traffic by the end of next week. “There may be some sporadic closures after that when we are working directly under the deck, but we should have it open to traffic by the end of the week,” he said.
According to Mr. Bustamante, the job entails work to both the surface of the bridge and the underside of the structure. Work to the underside of the bridge is performed from a floating dock and has to be coordinated with the tide. Mr. Bustamante said the crew can only work from the river for four-hour spans, or about two hours on each side of high tide. Depending on the timing of high tide, he said the crew will get the full four hours in a day or some days it might not be able to do any work on the underside of the bridge. Tuesday he said they were able to work for three hours on the float in the river then they finished the day on top of the deck.
The bridge was first constructed with wood in 1806 and it was rebuilt with wood in 1869. In 1902 it was replaced with an iron and concrete bridge constructed by the Groton Bridge Company. A large steel I-beam was subsequently added to accommodate a foot bridge on the east side of the bridge.
While he has heard much of the history and legend of the area, Mr. Bustamante said the bridge was built mainly for limited local traffic and that it was not designed for the high volume of traffic or the heavy trucks that use it presently. “It’s taking a beating and it is getting worn,” he said. “In the next 15 years or so they may have to make a decision about rebuilding the bridge. I don’t know if anyone now would be interested in making this a major bridge. Right now it is still a nice, quiet neighborhood bridge.”
In the days leading up to the bridge closing, a DPW work crew installed detour signs around the area announcing the bridge closing. Despite barricades, signs and traffic control barrels, motorist still drive right up to the bridge, some demanding to cross. Despite the occasional stubborn driver, Mr. Bustamante said Tuesday that the traffic situation has been fine.
“Once everyone figured it out they seemed to be okay with it. The locals figured it out right away that they can still get down to their houses. Some people from out of town still want to use it as a cut through, but traffic has not been much of a problem.”
Under a DPW bridge closure detour plan, traffic east of the Nissequogue River will be detoured to westbound Jericho Turnpike and then westbound on Route 25A in order to loop around to the far side of the river. Traffic west of the Nissequogue River will be detoured to westbound Oakside Road, eastbound on Route 25A and eastbound on Jericho Turnpike to loop around to the far side of the river. A total of 47 detour signs have been installed along Jericho Turnpike, Edgewood Avenue, Landing Avenue, Oakside Road, and Route 25A. Signs are placed as far west as the corner of East Main Street (Route 25A) and St. Johnland Road (Route 25A) in Kings Park; as far east as the intersection of Route 111 and Jericho Turnpike; as far southeast of the bridge as the corner of Kohlsaat Court and Edgewood Avenue; and as far northwest of the bridge as the corner of Landing Avenue and Wandering Way.