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Island Park’s Barnum Bridge to have limited closures in fall

Reactions were varied to news that traffic between Oceanside and Island Park will be strained this fall because of major Nassau County repair work on the Barnum Island Bridge that connects the two communities.

Nassau put out a request for proposals for the work last month, and the deadline to respond is 3 p.m. Thursday. The request estimates the construction costs at $8.3 million.

Mary Studdert, spokeswoman for the Nassau Department of Public Works, said the county had been considering repairs for nearly five years and put weight restrictions on the bridge in 2011.

We have received the necessary funding from the federal government, nearly $8 million, she said. She said she expected work to begin in early fall and to last about 18 months.

The bridge is, in fact, two spans, northbound and southbound. Studdert said one span will be demolished and reconstructed at a time. The northbound span was built in 1925; the southbound in 1961.

“Traffic will be moved to the other bridge, with two lanes in each direction re-striped using the shoulder area,” Studdert said.

Butch Yamali, the owner of Peter’s Clam Bar in Island Park, not far from the bridge, is unhappy about the work. He said he is disappointed that the county would contemplate making these repairs without discussing it with local businesses and residents.

“This is especially true with so many of us in the business community still recovering from superstorm Sandy,” he said.

He added that he would go to the county Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), to discuss the expected impact of the work on his business.

In an interview, Ford said: “This is a much-needed work, and we will try to work with all parties to minimize any negative impact. I’m going to ask the public for patience. . . . If we don’t use this funding now, it may be 10 years before we’re offered it again. There’s no telling what condition the bridge will be in at that time.”

Howard Cohen, the owner of Shane’s Dollar Daze a store in a small shopping center down the street from Yamali’s restaurant, said he did not think the work would be a major problem.

“It will slow down traffic, but people will get used to it,” he said.

Steve Jordan, of Jordan Lobster Farms, another seafood restaurant in Island Park, said: “There’s no doubt that it will slow traffic down and hurt business. Rather than go through gridlock, people will just stay at home or go somewhere a lot closer.”

Ken Reiner, 64, of Long Beach said he uses the bridge to travel to Lynbrook. “So whether I keep going that way or I take the Atlantic Beach Bridge, I can expect to add 10 to 15 minutes to my trip,” he said.

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