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Traffic flow shifts in LIE reconstruction

Motorists traveling westbound on the Long Island Expressway will notice a shift in the roadway as construction moves on to the third of the four-stage project in the Queens reconstruction project scheduled for completion in 2003.

The New York Department of Transportation announced last week that it had completed the construction on the highway’s eastbound lanes and started work on the westbound lanes Nov. 6 between Exit 19 and the Grand Central Parkway.

The new traffic flow will split the three lanes and wrap around the work zone at Exit 22, which is just east of the LIE overpass bridge with two lanes on the left and one on the right of the bridge. The two left lanes will only carry through traffic. Motorist will not be able to exit before Exit 19 — Maurice Avenue. Drivers in the right lane will have access to the local exits.

The DOT said the new traffic pattern shifts the two left lanes onto the newly reconstructed section of the LIE. All three lanes will join — as they do now — at Grand Avenue. According to the DOT, construction on this phase of the project should take about six months.

“Each new stage of this LIE reconstruction allows the traveling public to drive on a newly rebuilt portion of the roadway that results in safer, smoother and an improved traffic flow,” said Doug Currey, NYSDOT regional director. “We’ve already completed all the eastbound lanes between Woodhaven Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway and now the work shifts to the westbound lanes.”

Construction on the roadway scheduled for completion in 2003 has slowed traffic and during rush hours the expressway looks like a parking lot. The construction, added to the normal traffic patterns on the roadway, has left traffic inching along from the divide at Exit 19 to the Grand Central Parkway.

The construction is part of the NYSDOT project to reconstruct the LIE from the Queens Midtown Tunnel to the Grand Central Parkway.

The project is to be completed in four sections, with construction crews working on two lanes of the highway at a time. To keep the traffic moving, the DOT has rerouted traffic onto Horace Harding Expressway, which runs parallel to the LIE.

The DOT said the rehabilitation of the highway originally built in the 1940s includes the installation of new lights, a new road surface, a new drainage system, the removal of the bumps in the road and the installation of the Intelligent Transportation System to help traffic flow.

The highway has reached the end of its useful life, said a DOT official. He said there are problems with the riding surface and the reconstruction will raise the safety to today’s standards.

Modern Continental, a Boston-based contractor, started construction on the roadway in the spring of 2000 with a scheduled completion date in late 2003. The project is one of the most expensive roadwork projects in state history at a cost of $200 million and is being done concurrently with the state’s most expensive road project ever, the $228 million construction on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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