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Oyster Bay partners with Nassau on Syosset road project

Oyster Bay Town will partner with Nassau County to restart a long-awaited rebuilding of Jackson Avenue in Syosset, a project that fell into limbo after federal authorities refused to fund it.

Under the agreement, the county and the town will split the cost, now projected at roughly $6 million. Work should begin "as quickly as possible," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Thursday, perhaps by the end of this year.

When finished, the mile-long stretch of road will be transferred to Oyster Bay. The town will pay for maintenance.

Workers will repave much of the damaged road, a major artery that serves an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day, and widen it to better accommodate traffic.

Last year, Nassau had planned to use a $3-million transportation grant procured by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and its own capital funds to rebuild the road.

When the federal stimulus bill was approved in February 2009, the county applied for a grant to cover its share.

But the U.S. Department of Transportation said the project's planning and design didn't meet its criteria, and denied both the transportation and stimulus grants.

In February, Mangano said he would find alternate ways to fund the construction.

The $3 million that Israel had secured remains available for other county projects, his spokeswoman, Lindsay Hamilton, said, which frees up county money to pay for half the project.

The other estimated $3 million will come from Oyster Bay's capital fund.

In an interview, Mangano said Thursday he approached Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, a fellow Republican, for help once it was clear the project would not receive stimulus money.

He said their eventual agreement was not based on party loyalty.

"It's more about doing the right thing for the public, much less for politics," Mangano said. "This is a project that's sorely needed."

Venditto, in an interview, said he felt a "certain obligation" to help.

"There was always an understanding that Jackson Avenue was going to happen," he said. "When I heard that it was a bust . . . I felt an obligation to step up and see if we could become part of the solution."

Venditto said he wants Oyster Bay to eventually take charge of all the county roads within town limits.

"I think the county should get out of the road business," he said. "Each level of government should play to its strength."

Nassau Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who has pushed for rebuilding Jackson Avenue for years, said the announcement was an "excellent example of where partisan politics have been put aside."

"People can start breathing again in Syosset," she said.

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