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Captree Island's only road being raised to mitigate flooding

The $600,000 project is being funded through the state NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program in the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery.

The residential street on Captree Island, referred to as Captree Road and which floods regularly, will be raised as part of the state’s NY Rising program to make communities more resilient in storms. (Credit: Newsday / Rachel O'Brien)

The only east-west road on Captree Island in Babylon is getting a face-lift.

The road, technically unnamed but referred to as Captree Road by the town and the people who live there, is the only road on Captree Island other than Robert Moses Causeway, which connects it to the mainland.

Captree Road floods regularly, according to town officials and residents, so it will be elevated at least one foot, bringing it to between 2.5 feet and 2.75 feet above sea level, town waterways management supervisor Brian Zitani said.

Portions of the road are lower than others and adding fill to elevate it will bring the entire mile-long road above the average high tide level, Zitani said. The $600,000 project is being funded through the state NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program in the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

The road flooded during major storm events such as superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, but it also floods on a regular basis.

“We’d really like to see something done on that road,” said Michael Tennis, a year-round resident of Captree Island. “It’s a major concern of ours.”

Land to the west of the highway is in the Town of Babylon, while the eastern side is in the Town of Islip. The 32 houses on the Babylon side are the only houses on the island and about half are year-round residents, Tennis and Zitani said.

Tennis, 68, spent his childhood summers on Captree Island and now lives there full-time with his wife.

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Residents began converting their summer houses to year-round homes in the 1960s when electrical lines were run to the island. Tennis remembers watching the road being built around the same time.

“I remember the bulldozers,” he said.

Before the road, drivers would park their cars in a lot near the Robert Moses Causeway and walk to their houses, he said.

Tennis said he sees 8 inches to a foot of water on the road between six and 10 times a year. While he has a pickup truck that can usually get through it, smaller cars struggle.

“You would get water in your car doors,” he said.

Zitani said the road was under several feet of water after Sandy, and while raising it a foot or more won’t prevent flooding from major storms, it will prevent the road from being flooded by high tides and smaller storms.

The town was allotted NY Rising funding for storm resiliency, and residents selected this project, Zitani and Tennis said.

A permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been secured, a DEC  representative confirmed, and the town is awaiting a green light from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that agency said.

There are no buried utilities or storm drains to contend with, so the project will be simpler than if it was done on the mainland, Zitani said.

“This is going to change the game” for the residents, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

Zitani is hopeful the project will begin this summer and take about two months to complete.

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