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LIE-Cross Island Pkwy. work delayed by weather

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Try as they might, those working to reshape the interchange between the Cross Island Parkway and the Long Island Expressway in northeast Queens have had some problems keeping the massive construction project on schedule.

Blame it on the rain.

The weather was at least partly responsible for some recent delays in the project schedule, including the construction of new entrance and exit ramps connecting the two highways, state Department of Transportation project spokeswoman Cristina Capurro said this week.

The project, Capurro said, is like a fouled-up assembly line, with lags in some areas forcing the completion of two major local LIE overpasses to be pushed back to April 2003. Work to reconstruct the Marathon and Douglaston parkways’ LIE overpasses was originally slated to be finished this fall, she said.

“It’s the nature of construction,” Capurro said of the schedule delays. “We try the best we can.”

To complete the Marathon and Douglaston parkway overpasses, Capurro said lanes on the LIE would need to be shifted. Because the Douglaston Parkway overpass work was lagging behind the reconstruction on the Marathon Parkway overpass, Capurro said, both LIE bridges would be finished together to ensure safer lane shifts on the LIE below.

To get back on track, Capurro said the southbound Cross Island Parkway at the LIE was slated to be shut down between midnight and 6 p.m. Saturday. The closure was rescheduled several times this month because of weather and equipment problems, she said. Capurro said the project workers were attempting to secure Sunday as an alternate day for closure if weather interfered on Saturday.

The $112 million LIE-Cross Island Parkway project 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 advocate for the project.

The project includes the reconstruction of LIE overpasses in Little Neck and Douglaston and the buildup of West Alley Road to handle traffic that would have used the eastbound Douglaston Parkway exit, which was closed. The revamped interchange also will feature several direct entrance and exit ramps that eliminate the current cloverleaf design of the intersection.

Since building direct ramps usually requires major lane closures to erect large steel girders, recent weekend rain and bad weather have introduced some problems, Capurro said.

“We don’t really have a lot of weekends left before the weather starts to turn,” she said.

While some areas of the project have been delayed, others were just fine, Capurro said.

Work to renovate sewer lines underneath the westbound Long Island Expressway service road between Little Neck and Douglaston parkways was nearly complete, Capurro said, meaning part of the service road now closed could be reopened by the end of October.

The East Hampton Boulevard overpass, which was expected to handle traffic that formerly used the Douglaston Parkway exit, was still scheduled to be finished by the end of year, she said.

The project also was expected to include the addition of 12 acres of parkland to Alley Pond Park, new pedestrian walkways and lighting in the new parkland, the rehabilitation of the old Alley Pond, and the permanent closure of the eastbound Douglaston Parkway exit.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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