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Putting lights back on LI's parkways

A street light is out on the north

A street light is out on the north side of Old Country Road between Post Avenue and School Street in Westbury. (Jan. 30, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

Long before superstorm Sandy arrived, Watchdog had been hearing about state parkways where roadside lights were not shining. Some of those managed to get repaired before Sandy sent the roadways back into darkness.

These two are still awaiting a new round of repairs.

It's dark on the Meadowbrook, south of Merrick Road.

Reports of darkness on the parkway, south to the Loop Parkway, resumed once winter set in. Here's what one reader told us recently:

"I am writing to you about the nonworking lights on the Meadowbrook Parkway upon entering the Meadowbrook at the Loop Parkway to Merrick Road Exit," Melvin Sternberg of Port Washington wrote last month. "Last night was the first time in many months that I have taken the parkway at night. I have been informed by others that these lights have been off prior to Sandy. What can be done to restore [the] lights?"

The state Department of Transportation says the original outage was repaired a few weeks before Sandy. The storm then knocked out the lights again.

The original outage was the result of a transformer on the Loop Parkway failing in a storm last summer, department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said. "A replacement was ordered, received on Friday, September 28th, and installed by NYSDOT on Monday, October 1st," she said in an email.

When Sandy arrived Oct. 29, it not only undid that work but also inflicted new damage on the lighting infrastructure. "Superstorm Sandy inundated the area by Merrick Road," Peters said, "and the transformer along with the lighting controller cabinet for this section of Meadowbrook Parkway lighting south of Merrick Road were submerged and destroyed."

The department continues to work on restoring the lights, she said, coordinating with LIPA to "cut power to the transformer and thereby enable NYSDOT to replace this transformer along with the controller cabinet."

Some lights are back on the Robert Moses Causeway.

The northbound Robert Moses Causeway Captree Bridge wound up in the dark last year due to construction issues and a summer storm, Peters said. Lighting was restored before Sandy's arrival, she said, but the storm then led to "almost total devastation" of the lighting system.

That system, installed in the 1960s, is "obsolete," Peters said, which meant repair efforts were hampered because replacement bulbs and parts weren't available. Department technicians did manage to "salvage enough materials to provide a continuous lighting system on the west side of the northbound bridge span," she said. The lighting system on the east side will be replaced later this year, she said.

Peters encouraged readers to report lighting outages on the parkways in Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as on the Long Island Expressway to the department's 24-hour line at 631-724-4040.


Score one more in the ongoing effort to rid Long Island of double, and damaged, utility poles.

This one, in South Farmingdale, got our attention: It was cracked and splintered, presumably from a traffic accident, and leaning at an ominous angle.

We hadn't addressed double-pole issues in the months since Newsday's Denise Bonilla reported on their presence Islandwide and the difficulty of getting rid of them. Verizon, for example, told her that it has 54 "tenants" with equipment on its poles. Each tenant must remove its belongings before a pole can be taken down.

But even as the major three companies with equipment on utility poles -- LIPA, Verizon and Cablevision -- say they're on the case, the condition of this pole, at Carmans Road and Main Street, signaled that encouragement may be necessary. Our first call was to LIPA.

The utility had already moved its equipment to the new pole, spokesman Mark Gross said, and was waiting for similar moves by Verizon and Cablevision (which owns Newsday). Within days each had taken action and, by Monday, the pole was gone.

We'll be watching to see if a new law in Suffolk speeds up pole removals. The law, passed in September, applies to utility poles along county roads and imposes a fine of $1,000 a month if companies don't remove their equipment from a pole that's been replaced. Fines up to $250 per day can be imposed if a damaged pole that poses a "potential threat to public safety" isn't gone within 15 days of notification.

Nassau County is not considering such a law, according to legislative aide Matt Fernando. He encouraged residents to contact legislators about such poles because "we have had success with communication between the legislators and the [utility] companies."

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