There's more good news for frustrated North Shore residents forced to make a more than 10-minute detour after superstorm Sandy damaged West Shore Road in Mill Neck -- the road may reopen sooner than expected.
Nassau County officials say that $5 million in emergency repairs and the first of three phases of reconstruction already planned before Sandy undermined the pavement and protective seawall are moving faster than anticipated.
The county initially said the road, one of two access roads for Bayville and Centre Island, would be closed for nine months through the summer. Later, officials said it would open two months earlier, by July 4. Now, the county is saying it will be even earlier, if the weather cooperates.
But county public works department spokesman Michael Martino would not provide a target date Thursday.
"The entire project is expected to last up to nine months," he said. "However the contractor is working to restore traffic flow before the July Fourth weekend." Work on the shoulders and seawall would continue into the summer after the road reopens.
In addition, Martino said, "It is hoped that in the next 60 days there will be additional traffic allowed in certain sections of the road."
It's not clear whether that would be on one lane with alternating movement of vehicles or both lanes, or whether it would be only at certain times such as nights and weekends.
Construction began Nov. 19.
The contractor and National Grid crews are installing underground conduits and wires along the southbound lane in preparation for removing the utility poles along the water. Three undermined and collapsed sections of pavement have been filled in but not repaved.
"I'm very pleased with the progress they have made," Bayville Mayor Douglas Watson said.
Bayville civic leader John Taylor, an organizer of Revitalize West Shore Road, a group pushing for faster repairs, said, "We are pleased that it won't be closed through the summer, but many of the people still can't understand why it's taking so long and they are not working around the clock."