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LIE, Cross Island project delayed by rainy weather

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A rainy spring has delayed work on the state Department of Transporta­tion’s project to reshape the interchange between the Long Island Expressway and the Cross Island Parkway, but some key parts of the project are either underway or complete, a DOT spokeswoman said Monday.

The latest timetable shows that the Marathon and Douglaston parkway overpasses spanning the LIE will be finished by October, with the construction of steel girders supporting the overpasses scheduled for next month, said project spokeswoman Cristina Capurro.

The overpasses were last scheduled to be finished by April, but heavy rain delayed the completion of LIE repaving under the bridges between the Cross Island Parkway and the city line until the first week of June, Capurro said.

The repaving of the roadway to redirect traffic toward the LIE shoulder away from the center work zone was needed before the center pier under the Marathon and Douglaston parkway bridges could be taken down and reinforced, she said. Heavy rains this year had delayed the process.

“It’s a weather-sensitive operation,” Capurro said.

The newly configured interchange between the LIE and Cross Island Parkway, which will feature direct entrance and exit ramps instead of the current loop design, should be open by the end of August, Capurro said.

The only part of the interchange not scheduled for an August opening is the ramp between the eastbound LIE and the southbound Cross Island, Capurro said. That section, which will replace the service road connection, will be completed in the spring of 2004.

The Cloverdale Boulevard pedestrian bridge is scheduled to open before Labor Day, and the reconstruction of East Hampton Boulevard over the LIE should also be completed in September, Capurro said.

The construction on West Alley Road over the Cross Island Parkway, currently in its last phase, is scheduled to be complete by November, she said. Utility lines under the road, which was intended to replace the eastbound Douglaston Parkway exit, have been reconnected.

Although the work is ongoing, certain phases of the project have been completed or are in progress.

The north LIE service road between Marathon and Douglaston parkways was reopened during the first week of June, and the restoration of Alley Pond has been proceeding on schedule with the dredging of overgrowth well under way, Capurro said.

The replanting of 12 acres of parkland within the old interchange will begin this fall and may carry over into next spring. Trees and shrubs native to the area, grown in local nurseries, will occupy the former loop ramp areas, Capurro said.

The parkland will be reforested with evergreens, sassafras, white oak and tulip trees, which pedestrians will be able to enjoy using new trails and footpaths.

Two ponds in the northeast quadrant of the interchange will filter the Cross Island Parkway runoff before it can contaminate the local wetlands, she said. Sand in the bottom of the ponds will absorb the toxic sediments and will be cleaned out periodically.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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