State officials have announced a plan to repave a 1.4-mile stretch of Middle Country Road in Middle Island that some residents say is an embarrassment to the community.
Regular users of the road, state Route 25, say years of neglect has left it pockmarked with potholes and ruts. Residents say they do anything they can to avoid the road’s rough spots, even driving on the shoulder or in a center median.
“They’ve done a lot of patching, but it doesn’t really resolve the problem,” resident Bob Hall said in a telephone interview. “This is just the most deplorable stretch of New York State road I’ve ever seen.”
State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in an email the repaving project is set to begin later this year and will be completed by Dec. 31. She said the state had awarded the contract for the project in February, but a start date had not been set.
The “mill and fill” project will repave the road from Arnold Drive east to Yaphank-Middle Island Road, Peters said.
Residents use the road to get almost everywhere, including supermarkets, post offices and stores, said Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association. Middle Island Fire Department is on Arnold Drive, and Longwood Public Library is at the intersection of Route 25 and Yaphank-Middle Island Road.
Lynch-Bailey said ambulance crews have told her they pull off Route 25 because they can’t safely treat patients while traveling on the bumpy road.
“The past three years, it has been abominable,” Lynch-Bailey said. “Route 25 is our Main Street and it really is a shameful disaster. I feel like we’re going through a war zone.”
Adding to the frustration is incomplete information from officials about plans to improve the road, Hall and Lynch-Bailey said. They said a state DOT website lists the road as “under construction,” though work has not begun.
“Pinning down a date has been next to impossible,” Lynch-Bailey said.
Resident Jim Byrne said he has spent the past two years calling local officials to complain about conditions on the road. He said it is the only road that takes drivers in and out of the Birchwood at Spring Lake housing development, where he lives.
Byrne said he has campaigned for road improvements in a monthly newspaper he edits that is distributed to Birchwood’s 733 homes. He fears the road’s problems may turn off potential homeowners.
“I’m going to try to spotlight it every single month,” he said. “You come down Route 25 east or west, you’re going to be bouncing around all over the place.”