Reconstruction of Jamaica Ave. drags on

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Reconstruction of the stretch of Jamaica Avenue from Richmond Hill to Jamaica will continue until next May and exceed the original completion deadline set for this fall, the Department of Design and Construction said.

For months, the construction project has forced drivers heading for the Van Wyck Expressway to use alternate routes and made access to Jamaica Hospital difficult,

DDC spokesman John Spavins said the $10 million project between 127th Street and Sutphin Boulevard received a 200-day extension because of unforeseen difficulties in moving underground electrical wiring.

The project includes rebuilding roadways, sidewalks, curbs, and storm sewers, said Spavins.

For the past several months, westbound Jamaica Avenue traffic has been diverted to Hillside Avenue and other streets crossing the expressway.

Since Jamaica Hospital is bordered by the expressway and several dead-end streets, the most direct routes to the medical facility are Jamaica Avenue or the southbound Van Wyck service road, which crosses Jamaica Avenue.

Spavins said the contractor had discussed handling traffic flow with hospital officials, but he was not sure of what arrangements they made.

Emergency access has not been affected, according to hospital spokesman Michael Hinck. "At no time has ambulance access to the emergency room been interrupted," he said.

Hinck said hospital officials met with DDC representatives before construction began to discuss the project's effect. The DDC agreed to maintain traffic flow on Jamaica Avenue while the hospital managed traffic within its property.

"We regret there has been some traffic congestion for our patients and visitors, but our ambulances were not interrupted," Hinck emphasized.

Spavins said the project is slightly more than 50 percent done, with most of the major sewer work completed.

Construction also has slowed northbound service road traffic along the Van Wyck. Motorists sometimes sit in traffic for more than 15 minutes waiting to cross Jamaica Avenue to the expressway entrance ramp or continue along the service road.

Spavins said the project is the last phase of a revitalization effort along the thoroughfare dating back to the 1980s.

At that time, the elevated subway was removed following completion of the underground E-train subway line along Archer Avenue.

Residents recalled that the elevated line prevented sunlight from reaching the street and gave the avenue a dark, dingy look.

Spavins also said one project that will be completed this year is the Springfield Boulevard construction north of the Belt Parkway, set for November.

The past few months a southbound portion of the boulevard has been undergoing reconstruction, forcing drivers to carefully negotiate a single twisting lane to reach Belt Parkway.

A $29 million, 4,600-foot-long barrel along the boulevard between 143rd Road and Carson Street is part of a larger $80 million sewer system project aimed at preventing the kind of storm flooding that plagued much of Springfield Gardens in the past.

Spavins said the project is nearly complete with only work on a water main along Springfield Boulevard remaining.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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