New Hyde Park’s busiest thoroughfare will be closed in two weeks to allow workers to demolish a railroad grade crossing and build a new Long Island Rail Road station as part of LIRR's Third Track project.
Third Track Constructors, which MTA hired to build a 9.8-mile third track from Floral Park to Hicksville, told dozens of residents Wednesday in a civic association meeting that New Hyde Park Road will be closed starting on Feb. 3.
The New Hyde Park train station also will close on Feb. 3. Commuters can use a temporary 10-car platform next to the existing station between South 12th Street and South Eighth Street along Second and Third avenues until construction is completed, which LIRR expects to be in the fall of 2021.
The stretch of New Hyde Park Road that will be shut down runs from Plaza Avenue to Fourth Avenue. Crews will turn the grade crossing there into a five-lane underpass with sidewalks. Construction work is expected to take seven months, and the road will reopen before Labor Day, a 3TC representative said.
The planned closure of a heavily used thoroughfare has made village officials and residents anxious about the potential traffic that could be spilled onto neighboring residential streets. About 1,500 vehicles travel on the road per hour during rush hour, according to the MTA.
“I couldn't sleep last night thinking about the amount of cars that could possibly come through the residential areas,” Village Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said. “We're really sort of holding our breath right now.”
Montreuil said the village resisted the proposal to close New Hyde Park Road without a bypass in part because of the heavy traffic congestions the village had “endured” when Covert Avenue was shut down.
Covert Avenue reopened in October after seven months of construction that turned a former grade crossing into an underpass, one of eight crossings that LIRR plans to eliminate.
3TC had originally proposed to use a bypass road, which village residents and officials preferred, but changed its plan to a full closure to streamline planned construction in New Hyde Park, a company representative said.
The new plan will shrink estimated construction time from nine to seven months and speed up work for two projects at once — eliminating the grade crossing and renovating the station, said Travis Brennan, 3TC’s community outreach director.
“I know that's hard for everyone to swallow,” Brennan told the residents Wednesday. “It might not sound like a lot, but I can promise you, if you live in the area and you deal with construction on a daily basis, you want us in and out as fast as possible.”
Brennan said 3TC will blanket the area with signage for detours and coordinate with mapping service providers to update routes for drivers.
The company said it is also working to secure more than 100 temporary commuter parking spaces at 124 Covert Ave. and Church of the Holy Spirit's parking lot while the train station is closed.
Much of the commercial traffic on New Hyde Park Road, which is a designated route for large trucks, will be rerouted to Covert Avenue.
“It is going to be a nightmare,” said Bill Cutrone, president of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association, which hosted the meeting. “Hopefully they will readjust some of the signals. They will ask some of the traffic to go further east rather than everybody going down Covert Avenue.”
The mayor advised drivers who use New Hyde Park Road to get to work to consider alternate routes in the seven months when construction is in place.
“I’m not saying: ‘Everybody: Do not come to New Hyde Park,’” he said. “I’m saying the commuters, if they are able to, should try to avoid the area.”