Today’s news:

Westbound LIE exit 16 to close for construction

Motorists suffering through construction on the Long Island Expressway the past two years will face more delays in upcoming months.

The state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that starting Wednesday at 12:10 a.m., the Greenpoint Avenue ramp (Exit 16) off the westbound LIE will close for about four months for reconstruction.

The exit will be upgraded with a new drainage system, an improved lighting system and new concrete pavement.

The NYSDOT said motorists traveling west can use Exit 15 — Van Dam Street — for local streets and the Queensboro Bridge.

In addition, the DOT is widening the exit so motorists can turn onto Van Dam Street from two lanes instead of one right lane. Van Dam is the last exit before the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

“If the contractor finishes work and can reopen the Greenpoint Avenue exit ramp early, then a bonus is awarded,” said Douglas Curry, the NYSDOT director. “If the work finishes late, the contractor is penalized.

“It is our hope and expectation that the contractor can complete the work early and we can return a much improved exit ramp to service sooner.”

The work is part of NYSDOT’s project to rebuild the entire LIE from the Queens Midtown Tunnel to Grand Central Parkway.

Construction takes place along four sections, with crews working on two lanes at a time. To keep traffic moving, the DOT has rerouted vehicles onto Horace Harding Expressway, parallel to the LIE.

Modern Continental, the project’s Boston-based contractor, began construction last spring. The scheduled completion date is late 2003.

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

The road has reached the end of its useful life, said a DOT official, who noted the reconstruction will bring the expressway up to today’s safety standards.

At a cost of $200 million, the project is one of the most expensive in state history and is being done concurrently with the 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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