Long Island road and bridge repair projects totaling about $60 million are to get under way this summer in a bid to kick-start jobs and the economy, state officials and industry representatives said.
Using a new mechanism to speed the approval process, five state contracts for 19 projects will be awarded by the end of June. Then work will begin within the next few weeks -- even though the design phase has yet to start.
The projects, part of the NY Works program Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced April 3, were funded under the state budget adopted at the end of March.
The work is estimated to cost about $52 million in construction, with another $8 million for design, inspection and other planning costs, New York State Department of Transportation officials said.
While it is not clear how many new jobs the projects will create, Long Island Contractors Association executive director Marc Herbst said they represent "a positive jolt for the economy and a vast improvement in the safety of our infrastructure."
"The workforce is certainly available through organized labor and they're thirsting for job opportunities right now," he said, referring to an estimated 30 percent of construction workers that trade unions have said are out of work on Long Island.
John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, said the projects mean "not only jobs in construction but the ripple effect -- construction jobs bring more sales for retailers and more sales tax revenue as workers spend their money."
DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald credited her department, working with the Federal Highway Administration and state agencies, with accelerating the work.
"Because of this expedited process, we were able to begin opening bids on NY Works contracts just 19 days after the 2012-2013 State Budget was passed," she said.
The state passed legislation in December that enables the design and construction phase for the projects to occur simultaneously.
The legislation came after Cuomo used emergency powers to speed up repair work in the wake of Hurricane Irene and other storms last year, Herbst said.
The first contract to replace 17 bridge parapets -- the bridge sides -- at 10 locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties is scheduled to be put out for bids on Thursday. The $16 million construction, design and inspection contract will be awarded June 25, according to the DOT.
Three other contracts will be bid June 7 and awarded June 30.
The first of those is for road surface repairs between Exits 68 and 73, east and westbound, on the Long Island Expressway and is estimated at $9 million.
Another is to resurface State Route 25A from Bread and Cheese Hollow Road to Sunken Meadow State Parkway in the towns of Huntington and Smithtown.
The last contract is for bridge deck replacement at six locations. It will be bid May 29 and awarded in June, officials said.
Most commuters are to be spared the worst of construction delays -- the work will be conducted mostly at night, as required by the contracts.