Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
I live on Parkway Drive North in Commack, where tree roots have raised the sidewalk about eight inches in one section and cracked other parts. Many adults and children have tripped and fallen because, from one direction, the problem isn't visible. I've gone to the Smithtown Highway Department with a letter of complaint and pictures, but I have not seen any work done on this street except for the occasional pothole repair.
-- Robert Pastroski, Commack
The Smithtown highway superintendent agrees with you, Mr. Pastroski: The sidewalks are "horrendous."
"It needs to be done, I do agree," Glenn Jorgensen said.
After our inquiry, Jorgensen visited the neighborhood and reported the sidewalks would be repaired this year. He said your street is part of a backlog of more than 6,000 sidewalk and curb complaints.
Jorgensen has asked the town to borrow $10 million for road, sidewalk and curb repairs. The board is awaiting an engineering report from the Highway Department before acting on the request. A vote is expected later this year. Four votes are needed to approve the bond.
The work on Parkway Drive North will not depend on those funds, he said.
Town of Smithtown residents with sidewalk concerns can call the town's Highway Department at 631-360-7500.
-- Michael R. Ebert
Northbound traffic on Wantagh Avenue cannot see the entrance sign to the eastbound Southern State Parkway. A solid white plastic fence about 5 to 6 feet high has been installed and I'm wondering if the sign is behind it.
-- Allan Hausman, Massapequa
Taking a cue from Mr. Hausman, Watchdog headed up Wantagh Avenue in search of the SSP entrance -- and drove right past, glimpsing it much too late to, well, make an entrance.
As it turned out, the fence was not the culprit: The sign for northbound drivers was missing, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Eileen Peters said, and a second had been twisted so it wasn't visible to southbound drivers.
The department acted quickly when told of the lack of direction. Crews provided a temporary sign for northbound drivers and repaired the sign for southbound drivers. A permanent sign will replace the temporary structure as soon as possible, Peters said.
-- Judy Cartwright
Residents in a Port Jefferson Station neighborhood were not pleased when the Town of Brookhaven used asphalt for a recent sidewalk repair near their homes. Just two blocks away another job had been done in concrete, which led them to ask: Why the double standard?
Asphalt has many wonderful qualities, but as a patch on concrete sidewalks it's less than picturesque. So Watchdog asked the Brookhaven Highway Department why only one block got concrete.
The explanation involves the distinction between the types of work being done. The sidewalk with the asphalt patch, along West Broadway near Comerford Street, is one of many that have been getting temporary repairs to make walkways safe, deputy highway superintendent Lori Baldassare said. More sidewalks than usual have required such work, she said, due to damage from trees uprooted by Tropical Storm Irene at the end of last summer.
She conceded that the asphalt "doesn't look the greatest," but it gives the sidewalk a level surface and removes the tripping hazard.
As for the work two blocks away: That job involved replacement of a driveway apron, she said, which requires concrete.
There is good news for neighborhoods with patched sidewalks, but it will take a while to arrive: The walks will get redone in concrete when adjacent roadways are resurfaced, Baldassare said. For this section of West Broadway, that's expected in the next year or two.
Which beats how long it took to get the nearby driveway apron repaired: Baldassare said that job had a work order dated 2003.
-- Judy Cartwright