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70 cars damaged by Northern State Parkway pavement; officials plan reimbursements

The Northern State Parkway eastbound at exit 37A

The Northern State Parkway eastbound at exit 37A in Plainview on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Credit: Steven Sunshine

State transportation officials made emergency repairs early Sunday to lanes on the Northern State Parkway being repaved after dozens of drivers popped their tires Saturday night, a spokeswoman said.

Eileen W. Peters, the state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said a contractor poured hot asphalt to fill pot holes created after Saturday's downpour washed away sections of a recently milled surface of the eastbound lanes between exits 36 and 37 in Plainview, a stretch of road just under a mile long.

"We are very sorry people had to experience this," she said. "Unfortunately we can't predict Mother Nature. But we are prepared for emergencies such as this, which is why we were able to respond quickly."

She said in an email the state will expedite claims and bear "appropriate responsibility." Drivers can call 718-446-7000 ext. 210 to submit claims for reimbursement.

The repaving of that section of roadway started in mid-October and will be completed Wednesday, Peters said.

About 9:15 p.m. Saturday, 15 cars were stranded, some with flat tires. More than three hours later, Bang's Towing, of Amityville, had changed tires and towed close to 60 cars, said owner Tommy Nuss.

Nuss said another 10 drivers changed their own tires. He said one lane of the parkway was closed.

"It was definitely one of the wildest situations we ever saw," Nuss said. "We felt bad for the people because they are driving down the road, you don't realize and ba-boom."

Some drivers reported hitting a deep, rain-filled pothole. Others believed they hit a piece of drainage equipment. Peters said cars may have hit a sewer grate.

State transportation officials had said the lanes were scheduled to be closed for a month on weekdays between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., weather permitting. Peters said the department has now posted electronic signs notifying drivers of the rough road, in addition to the construction signs already there.

State Police said Saturday they responded to the scene about 9:15 p.m. State Police also called Bang's Towing about that time and said several cars were stranded, Nuss said. Police called back shortly after, requesting more tow trucks for more stranded cars, Nuss said.

More than two hours later, Debra Gallo, 24, of Dix Hills, said both tires on the driver's side popped as her mother drove.

"We had to pull over further down the road because there were so many cars," Gallo said. "If the road is that bad at 9 p.m., close it down."

State Police could not be reached Sunday.

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