Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, backed by the entire Riverhead Town Board and North Fork county Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches), stood at a podium Thursday in the parking lot of a new Hilton hotel in Riverhead and “lifted the curtain” on the county’s $8-million widening of the busiest road on the North Fork.
He might have cut a ribbon, except for the small technical detail that the road isn’t quite finished. But with Memorial Day coming, Levy and the others declared it to be “virtually” complete.
The road — which had sections where it was one lane in each direction — is now two lanes wide in each direction with a center turn lane.
All the asphalt has been put down on the roadbed. There is still some minor paving to be done and paint to be put down. That is expected to be completed in the next week, before the June 10 project completion date.
“We said we would tackle this traffic beast on County Route 58 and we did,” Levy said.
For years, the 3.2-mile stretch of road has been the worst bottleneck in Riverhead. The county was able to speed up construction and cut down costs — it was originally projected at $40 million — by building lanes that are 10 and 11 feet wide, allowing the road to fit into the existing county right of way.
“It’s a workable solution at an affordable price,” Romaine said.
Riverhead is currently building a large hotel near the town's aquarium. The downtown area merchants battle the busy nearby Route 58.