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Pinelawn Road bridge in Melville closing for repair

The Pinelawn Road overpass as viewed from the

The Pinelawn Road overpass as viewed from the eastbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway in Melville. (April 4, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Pinelawn Road bridge over the Long Island Expressway in Melville will close to northbound traffic for four months of construction starting Monday, part of a $24.2 million project to give a new lease on life to six of Long Island's aging bridges.

Work to repair three of the six bridges began last year after the project was announced by the Cuomo administration in August. Monday marks the start for the first of three overpasses across the LIE that are part of the contract being performed by Farmingdale-based Posillico Civil Inc.

All six bridges are steel beam and concrete slab deck spans built between 1958 and 1970 that need structural fixes that require ripping up and replacing the entire bridge deck before repaving.

The Pinelawn Road overpass, which needs an estimated $5.5 million in work, was constructed in 1962, said Eileen Peters, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

"It's 51 years old, showing signs of its age and we want to ensure it lasts well into the future," Peters said.

After taking account of traffic flows along the busy Pinelawn Road commercial district, the DOT said two southbound lanes will be kept open throughout the work's duration -- with the exception of a possible single-lane closure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The job is expected to be complete by fall, weather-permitting, Peters said.

Northbound motorists will be diverted to a detour that adds slightly less than a mile: east at the expressway's South Service Road intersection along to the Half Hollow Road overpass, then left to head west back onto Pinelawn Road via the North Service Road.

Concrete barriers will be set in place early Monday to direct traffic. Once work is finished on the bridge's northbound side, the two southbound lanes will be routed onto that side while work continues on the southbound lanes.

Nighttime closures of the LIE are expected later this month when demolition of the bridge's southbound lanes occurs. Similar closures, with detours onto the service roads, are planned when the bridge's northbound lanes are demolished.

The other bridges are:

Great Neck Road over Route 27/Sunrise Highway in Babylon;

Route 24/Hempstead Turnpike over the Belmont Park access road in Hempstead;

Robert Moses Causeway over Ocean Parkway in Islip;

Ronkonkoma Avenue and Waverly Avenue overpasses across the LIE in Brookhaven.

Peters said the work is being expedited through the design-build process. Under that method, the contractor works with a design partner -- Posillico partnered with Greenman-Pedersen Inc. of Babylon -- to create a design that is reviewed by DOT engineers pre-construction.

The method can mean time and cost savings, partly because the contractor has input into the design, bringing latest technological know-how, and because parts of the design time can overlap with parts of construction. The method has been used by other states, New York City and the federal government for years but was only officially adopted by New York State in 2012.

Work is on schedule for the other bridges, so the DOT expects the Pinelawn overpass work will also come in on time, Peters said.

A separate $4.5 million project under way to widen the north and south service roads a short distance to the west is expected to finish on time by early summer, according to the DOT. The roads are being widened by another lane from just west of Walt Whitman Road to Pinelawn Road, a distance of about a half-mile, with traffic signals updated and turning lanes also added at the intersections.

That work, being done by Hicksville-based Inter-County Paving, is part of improvements undertaken in connection with the construction of the new Canon building on the corner of Walt Whitman and the South Service Road.

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