Road repairs ready to begin on Ocean Parkway

Photo credit: Steve Pfost | Ocean Parkway after sustaining damage as a result of superstorm Sandy. (Dec. 18, 2012)

December 20, 2012

Work is to start immediately on reconstructing Ocean Parkway and the Robert Moses traffic circle, parts of which were buckled, broken and torn apart by superstorm Sandy. 

Three construction companies — two based on Long Island and one in Queens — have signed a contract to repair the road and bring in sand to create new beach dunes. 

Bove Industries of East Setauket, John P. Picone Inc., headquartered in Lawrence, and Tully Construction, based in Flushing, will work through the winter to get the $33.2 million job done. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he wants the road fully open before the summer beach and tourist season.

In addition to road reconstruction, the project includes dredging more than a million tons of sand from Fire Island Inlet to restore five miles of dunes ravaged near Gilgo and Tobay beaches. The three companies will subcontract $18 million of the work to Norfolk Dredging Co. from Chesapeake, Va., according to state officials and company representatives. 

"You can expect to see equipment mobilizing within 10 days or so," Peter Tully, president of Tully Construction, said. "The roadwork preparation will commence immediately — as soon as we have insurance documents in place — and the dredging in January." 

Sandy's force damaged a two-mile section of the eastbound side of the parkway, undermined parts of the traffic circle and destroyed dunes. Traffic in both directions on that stretch must now use the northernmost lanes.

Emergency federal highway funding will pay for restoring the road to its pre-Sandy condition. If additional funding is found, the state has indicated it would support more work to fortify the roadway against future storms. 

Most of the work will be paid for by the Federal Highway Administration emergency relief fund. The project must be completed within 180 days of the Oct. 29 storm for the state to qualify for full reimbursement.

Using emergency powers after the storm, Cuomo issued an executive order Oct. 31 suspending the usual competitive bid process for the work. Instead, five Long Island-based construction interests were invited to bid: Bove, Grace Industries of Plainview, Inter-County Paving of Hicksville, Posillico of Farmingdale and a team of Pratt Brothers from Bay Shore and Pete Scalamandre and Sons of Freeport. Bove then opted to undertake the project as a joint venture with Tully and Picone. 

State officials were not opposed to a joint venture, Department of Transportation spokesman Beau Duffy said. The three companies will share the benefits, responsibilities and risk evenly, Tully said.

"We look forward to working together on this project and understand its importance to the area and for getting the beaches open for the summer," said Picone vice president Robert Wessels. Bove representatives did not return a call for comment.

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) voiced concerns that Tully's inclusion could delay its work on another state project — repaving and adding safety upgrades to a 6.3-mile section of Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County from the Queens border to Glen Cove Road. 

"We have a time-sensitive contract on Ocean Parkway," Martins said. "I'm concerned this latest situation will mean they pay even less attention to the Jericho Turnpike project, which affects hundreds of thousands of people who live in the vicinity and use that roadway daily." 

Duffy said the start of paving for Jericho Turnpike had been delayed until 2013 "primarily by Hurricane Sandy," but that the transportation department expects the project to be completed on or before its Dec. 31, 2013, deadline. 

Tully also was the contractor for the Roslyn Viaduct renovation project. It ran years behind its scheduled end date, but state and federal officials attributed the delays to the project's complexity and problems getting massive pieces of pre-manufactured material to the site. 

Tully said his company is capable of balancing several projects at once. 

"We have 40 jobs on the go throughout the tri-state area and $1 billion worth of work involved in the Second Avenue subway project [in Manhattan] alone," he said. 

He called the $21.2-million Jericho Turnpike project "relatively simple" and said that "Ocean Parkway is a very small job for our company." 

Tully, a Long Island native and Cuomo's sole appointment to the LIPA board, said it was personally important to him to get the parkway open in time for Memorial Day weekend. 

"Psychologically, it's the official start of summer and it helps people feel things are getting back to normal," he said. 

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