Municipal leaders are pushing for a fast fix on a cracking 60-year-old culvert that some say is threatening to undermine a vital North Shore evacuation route in Plandome Manor.
Salt water has eroded the inside of the culvert, which was built in 1954 to drain storm water into Manhasset Bay, and is compromising the heavily traveled North Plandome Road, said Barbara Donno, mayor of the village of 900.
The office for state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) said $1.5 million in state funding has been earmarked for repairing or replacing the culvert, which is 15 feet wide and 7 feet, 3 inches high. North Hempstead officials say their plan is to add a corrugated metal pipe to the inside of the existing culvert, which could cost about $1.7 million.
"It needs some structural improvements so that we could rely on it going forward," Martins said. "We never know when we'll get that next big storm."
Storm-water runoff from a 2,275-acre tributary watershed area -- comprising several North Shore villages -- flows into Leeds Pond and travels through the culvert into Manhasset Bay.
Donno said that cracking in the road has her concerned the culvert "needs to be replaced or repaired sooner rather than later. Our concern is for all the people that travel that road. It's not just a Plandome Manor issue."
Donno said that while awaiting the repair, the village's board of trustees will discuss setting a weight limit for the road that would limit heavy trucks.
The issue highlights aging infrastructure on Long Island and nationwide, municipal leaders and experts said.
"In general, the infrastructure is definitely aging; because we were the first suburb, a lot of our infrastructure was built just past the second World War," said Meghan McPherson, assistant director of the Center for Health Innovation at Adelphi University. "We're now putting a stress on a system that was not built for the population that lives here."
Judi Bosworth, North Hempstead supervisor, said the project "needs attention and needs to be addressed." She said the repair is critical for the health of the town's waterways; and town officials are awaiting permits required for the work from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Photos of the culvert taken in 2008 and 2013, included in a study conducted by the Mineola engineering group Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP, show the concrete inside is eroding. Photos show the culvert has eroded so much that the rebar -- the steel reinforcing rod in the concrete -- is exposed. The study notes that curbs on both side of the culvert are depressed and that there is evidence of a crack that extends along the culvert's roof.
The 2013 study says there is "considerable amount of crazing [pattern cracking]" throughout the roof of the culvert. The study says "although crazing does not generally affect the integrity of the structure, it allows the moisture to get below the surface."