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Group asks DOT for infusion of cash for Route 347 project

A construction crew works on Route 347 at

A construction crew works on Route 347 at Gibbs Pond Road in Nesconset on Feb. 15. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

The heads of 16 labor, business and transportation groups from the region are asking the state to immediately kick in more money for a critical road project in Suffolk County that has run out of funding for construction with less than one-third of the job completed.

Representatives from groups including the Long Island Contractors Association, the Long Island Builders Institute and the American Automobile Association sent a letter to Paul Karas, acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, requesting “an immediate infusion of funds” to continue the redevelopment of Route 347.

The project, which began in 2010, aims to reconstruct 15 miles of roadway stretching through Islip, Smithtown and Brookhaven towns that is used daily by 70,000 motorists. But funding ran out last year after fewer than 5 miles of the roadway had been rebuilt.

The new state budget earmarks $15 million for design and preliminary engineering of the next phase of the project, but that amount is “insufficient to meet the immediate needs of the thousands of Long Islanders who use this highway every day to get to and from work and recreation opportunities,” the letter’s authors wrote.

In a statement, DOT spokesman Curtis Jetter noted that the state has spent $160 million to date on the project, and fulfilled its project commitments as laid out in the DOT’s current five-year capital plan.

“The New York State Department of Transportation understands and appreciates the vital link that the Route 347 corridor provides in serving the north/central portion of Suffolk County,” Jetter said.

Project supporters have sought $60 million to advance construction on the effort, which they say otherwise may not resume for another five years, a timetable that they wrote “is completely unacceptable to the thousands of commuters and residents who use Route 347 as their main avenue through this portion of Suffolk County.”

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