State plans Ocean Pkwy. project on tight deadline

Damage done by superstorm Sandy on Ocean Parkway

Damage done by superstorm Sandy on Ocean Parkway in Gilgo. (Nov. 1, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Bill Bleyer)

New York State is launching a project to rebuild Ocean Parkway, the badly undermined Robert Moses traffic circle, and the protective sand dunes along Jones Beach -- with the entire work to be completed before May 1.

Construction industry sources, along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have said the cost could reach as high as $50 million. But the real challenge comes with the tight timeframe -- whichever firm is awarded the contract must have the work completed within 180 days, or six months, of the storm so that New York state can qualify for federal reimbursement.

"Step by step our state's infrastructure is being restored after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement last night.


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Five pre-qualified Long Island construction firms have been invited to submit bids on the project to the state Department of Transportation by Dec. 7 for the simultaneous dune rehabilitation and road reconstruction project, officials said last night.

"This is an extremely challenging job requiring work 24/7 in severely brutal winter conditions, subject to possibly additional storms along the shore, and within a compressed timeframe, now less than 180 days," said Marc Herbst, head of the Long Island Contractors' Association.

Meanwhile -- four weeks after Sandy devastated parts of Long Island -- the iconic 15.5 mile parkway that runs from Captree State Park to the southern tip of the Meadowbrook State Parkway, will partially reopen Monday, officials said.

State agencies and two Long Island companies, Bove Industries and United Fence & Guardrail, have worked around the clock to clear sand and debris and install a makeshift median barrier so that the westbound side of the road can open to single-lane, two-way traffic. The westbound roadway is to reopen Monday morning with a 35 mph speed restriction in place, officials said.

The eastbound side of the parkway suffered unprecedented damage as it was pounded by Sandy's storm surges that also obliterated the dunes. In parts, particularly a strip two miles west of Gilgo Beach near Tobay, the ocean overran the road.

Beyond the parkway's limited opening Monday is the longer, much more ambitious project to rebuild the entire length of road, the circle and the dunes by May.

A requirement of the dune reconstruction is for an up-to-one-mile length of 50-foot-high steel sheeting to be driven into the ground to protect the sand from future storms. It will protrude above the roadway as a vertical reinforcement behind the dunes and between them and the eastbound roadway, sources said.

The work will entail massive dredging operations involving the Army Corps of Engineers and a private contractor, as well as the transporting of thousands of tons of materials to form the base of a newly strengthened dune, according to those involved in early planning discussions.

Representatives of the pre-qualified firms -- Bove, Grace, Inter-County Paving, Posillico and Pratt-Scalamandre -- held a "contractor pre-meeting briefing" with senior NYS DOT engineers and representatives from state parks at Hauppauge on the morning of Nov. 16, the sources told Newsday. The firms are all established Long Island companies with a track record of doing business on large road work projects for the state DOT.

Executive powers available to Cuomo during an emergency declaration enabled the state DOT earlier this month to suspend many of the usual contracting, procurement and advertisement requirements. The suspension is intended to speed up the bid process but also enables the state to more closely target which firms bid.

"The state decided to use Long Island firms to keep the work and jobs on Long Island," Herbst said.

The firms will Monday receive copies of plans that amount to general outlines from the DOT for the project and each has until Dec. 7 to submit its proposals, with the department likely to award the contract the following day, the sources said.

Subi Chakraborti, director for the NYSDOT on Long Island, did not return calls for comment last night, but others present at the Nov. 16 meeting told Newsday the successful contractor would be required to carry out the entire dune replacement and roadwork on both the parkway and the traffic circle.

Key requirements of the winning contractor include the sand and stone sourcing and hauling necessary for dune replacement, and replacing an up-to-one-mile base concrete roadway -- a challenge in winter, when weather makes curing difficult. Several contractors, who asked not to be identified as they are bidding, said the slabs of concrete could be made off-site and trucked in.

At least two Long Island firms, Roman Stone and Long Island Precast Inc., confirmed they have been contacted as potential subcontractors for the job.

This story has been changed to clarify the nature of proposals to be submitted by Dec. 7.

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