Residents of communities along Middle Country Road in Brookhaven Town thought this was the year the pothole-riddled state highway finally would be repaved.
Brookhaven officials and civic leaders in Ridge, Middle Island, Coram and Gordon Heights said they've waited years for the work to begin. Now they're steamed after finding out the project is not scheduled to start till next year.
"We’re patient, but we’re not that patient,” said E. James Freeman, president of the Gordon Heights Civic Association. “You’re talking about people who are extremely forgiving about things, but you get to a point where you can’t be forgiving.”
Route 25 through that section of Brookhaven is mostly two lanes — one in each direction — with no raised median to separate traffic. Residents describe it as a hazardous highway filled with gaping chasms that regularly blow out tires and cause drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic. They say the last major repaving was more than a decade ago.
Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association, said it is the main thoroughfare in a "car-centric" area where driving is the only practical way to reach stores, doctors' offices, banks and other essential services.
“It’s a disaster zone," she said.
State officials last year said in a letter to Suffolk Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) that a 9-mile section of Middle Country Road — between Mount Sinai Coram Road and Wading River Manor Road — would be repaved this year.
Brookhaven Councilman Michael Loguercio said state officials had assured the town the work would be done this year before switching gears and announcing it would be started in 2021.
But Stephen Canzoneri, a DOT spokesman, said Tuesday the project "was never anticipated to be completed this year," but is part of a $22.8 million project that includes jobs in Nassau County that are starting this year.
"The resurfacing project is proceeding as planned and the scheduled completion date has always been and remains the end of 2021," he said in a statement. "In addition, the department plans to make temporary repairs to sections of Route 25 ahead of this winter."
Anker said the project is "long overdue."
“The road is something people see every single day of their lives just about," she said. "We have to make sure the roads are safe.”
Coram Civic Association president Erma Gluck said the state's efforts to fill potholes were only a "temporary fix," and residents are "tired of waiting for our turn at bat."
"Time and again this area was included in the budget, but then the money gets pulled for another area outside of Brookhaven Town," she said in an email.
Lynch-Bailey said she is annoyed the project won't be done this year, but said she believes the state can complete it successfully. She pointed to the recent reconstruction of state Route 347 in Nesconset as an example of what state transportation crews are capable of achieving when they have the proper funding and designs.
"That’s not even what we’re asking for," she said. "We’re just looking for something where we can drive through safely.”
Long and winding road
Letters from state Department of Transportation officials to Brookhaven and Suffolk County lawmakers show a repaving project on Route 25 has been repeatedly delayed:
- December 2017: State says resurfacing is planned for 2019.
- April 2019: State says repaving is rescheduled for spring 2020.
- July 2020: State officials say repaving will be completed in 2021.