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Nighttime LIE closures as fixes being made

A more than 7-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway will close between exits 34 and 41 westbound Monday night and eastbound Tuesday night to install rumble strips after last year's death of a patrolman conducting a roadside stop.

A special machine that chews up asphalt will install the audible rumble strips on the shoulders of the LIE between the two exits as part of suggested improvements in a federal road-safety assessment.

The assessment followed highway patrolman Michael Califano's death in a three-vehicle wreck in February last year -- Nassau's first line-of-duty police death since 1993.

Califano, 44, had pulled over one truck in a nighttime stop near Exit 39 in Old Westbury when a flatbed truck driver who dozed off slammed into his patrol car, which struck the other truck. The father of three from Wantagh was killed, and the Nassau Police Benevolent Association later identified 24 other nonfatal accidents in which police officers were struck on the side of the LIE between exits 35 and 41 since 2001.

Weather permitting, the closure of westbound lanes Monday night is scheduled from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. On Tuesday night, the eastbound travel lanes are set to close at 11 p.m. until 6 a.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

In related safety improvements, officials have said 10 new emergency pull-off areas will be added to the expressway between the two exits, with four designed and built by year's end. In total, around $1.5 million is being spent this summer on routine maintenance, safety improvements and upgrades to the stretch, said Frank Pearson, regional traffic engineer for the state DOT.

The Monday and Tuesday night closures between New Hyde Park Road and N.Y. routes 106/107 come amid other improvements and repair work to the expressway.

A $2.3 million project to add another access-egress point to the High Occupancy Vehicle lane in each direction between exits 37 and 38 continues this week, requiring the roadway to close in both directions between exits 37 and 39 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Closures go from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. westbound and from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. eastbound.

Road crews began work on that project last Wednesday, removing an overhead sign, installing a new structure and this week will mill and pave the HOV lane and complete marking and other overhead sign work.

Out east, in Brookhaven and Riverhead, the LIE will undergo concrete resurfacing in both directions between exits 68 and 73 in the coming weeks.

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