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LIE’s West Doug Park exit is history

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Can’t imagine life without a westbound Douglaston Parkway exit on the Long Island Expressway?

Well, motorists on the LIE will have plenty of time to get used to the much-debated and anticipated exit closure. A spokeswoman for the Long Island Expressway-Cross Island Parkway interchange project said the exit was to be permanently shut Wednesday.

“This will not reopen,” said Cristina Capurro, community liaison for the project. “It’s permanent.”

The $112 million proposal to reshape the interchange between the LIE and the Cross Island Parkway was conceived as an alternative plan by the state when northeast Queens residents and politicians protested the idea of widening the LIE for High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in 1996. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) was a major architect of the project.

The closure of the Douglaston Parkway westbound exit — Exit 31 — has been a source of controversy with local residents who fear the loss of the exit will increase traffic on neighborhood streets while making it harder to get to the Douglaston Plaza shopping center at the intersection of the LIE and Douglaston Parkway.

In addition to the permanent loss of the Douglaston Parkway exit on the westbound Long Island Expressway, the LIE-Cross Island Parkway project was moving forward ahead of schedule this week, Capurro said.

“We’re actually a little bit ahead of schedule,” she said in an interview Friday. “We’ve got a couple months cushion, which is good.”

The LIE project will include: the buildup of West Alley Road to handle traffic that would have used Exit 31; the addition of 12 acres of parkland to Alley Pond Park; and work on LIE overpasses at Marathon, Little Neck, and Douglaston parkways.

The project coincides with the state’s effort to extend the HOV lanes on the LIE throughout Long Island and into Queens. The HOV lanes will terminate at the county line and a half-mile-long exit ramp was expected to be created at the city line to handle the additional traffic.

While work on the Marathon and Little Neck Parkway bridges is well under way, Capurro said work to reconstruct the Douglaston Parkway bridge would begin toward the end of April or beginning of May.

During the construction on the Marathon Parkway bridge, traffic has been restricted to two lanes, one going in either direction. Capurro said the Douglaston Parkway bridge reconstruction would leave the overpass with three traffic lanes: two southbound and one northbound. One of the southbound lanes, she said, would be both a turning lane and a straight lane.

Another major component of the interchange project was scheduled to begin in several weeks when the water mains in the westbound LIE service road are replaced, Capurro said.

Capurro said the work — which will be on the north side of the expressway between Marathon and Douglaston Parkways — would feature a total upgrade of the water mains in the area. She said water for local residents would not be affected during the work, which was expected to last eight to nine months.

For more information about the interchange project call either Community Board 11 at 718-225-1054 or the field office at 718-279-4533.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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