After two years of construction, dual historic bridges have been replaced with wider, stronger bridges that will give emergency vehicles access to the American Venice section of Copiague.
A canal bisects the waterfront neighborhood — designed in the 1920s to resemble Venice, Italy — creating an east side and a west side.
The two bridges span other narrow canals on the main roads, E. Riviera Drive and W. Riviera Drive, and their old age, low weight limit and narrow roads hindered large emergency vehicles from accessing parts of the neighborhood during superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Now, wider bridges that can hold far more tonnage have replaced their counterparts, reopening to two-way traffic for the first time since the $8.8 million project — funded by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery —began in 2017.
While the new bridges contain arches like the originals, there are details that have been lost in the reconstruction, irking some residents, like John Vogt, who lives on West Lido Promenade and is chairman of the American Venice Civic Association.
He said he takes issue with the metal guardrails attached to the bridges, and would have preferred to see a concrete abutment instead. He also lamented that all of the decorative components are on the outsides of the bridges, so those using the east bridge can appreciate it if they look over at the west bridge and vice versa. But the insides of the bridges are smooth, plain.
All in all, “I’m glad they’re redone,” Vogt said. “I’m glad they tried to keep them looking historic.”
Michele Insinga lives on the east side and said she doesn’t like that the work has relocated the sidewalks from the outside of the bridges to the inside, next to traffic.
“In the end, yeah, sure it’s great,” Insinga said. “Have there been issues? Of course, because you have a one-lane bridge for over a year and a half, and people are just not used to that.”
Now that large trucks can access roads south of the bridges for the first time since the 1920s, some will be reconstructed, said Tom Stay, Babylon Town public works commissioner.
In 2018, the town sent smaller trucks to pave all the interior roads on the western side of the neighborhood, Stay said. In the fall, the town will do the interior roads on the eastern side.
If everything goes to plan, by the end of 2021, both sides south of the bridges will be repaved, some with major reconstruction, Stay said.
The high water table makes the exterior roads, like West Lido Promenade, deteriorate faster than interior roads and require reconstruction, Stay added.
“Unfortunately,” Stay said, “these islands, they filled in some marshland back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, so the material that it was built on wasn’t that great.”
The bridges were built as part of American Venice to resemble Venice, Italy
Cost to redo both bridges
Projected completion of street reconstruction
Number of houses in American Venice