While Nassau County gears up for another phase of repair to the main road into Bayville, some are asking why the bridge can’t be fixed first.
The bridge, which opens to allow boats to pass through, has been stuck open three times this year, according to a county spokeswoman. That can shut the road, one of only two ways into Bayville, for hours.
“We’ve gotten several complaints from business owners in town because it’s gotten stuck at inopportune times during the day where people coming into town, coming to frequent the restaurants and businesses, couldn’t get there,” said Bayville Village Trustee Timothy Charon.
Charon said the bridge has broken down more frequently since superstorm Sandy and he’s concerned that it could get stuck during an emergency.
“It’s very important to do the bridge repair first and the West Shore Road second,” Charon said.
The third phase of construction on West Shore Road is expected to start in October and last 18 months, according to the county. The project will remove and replace about 5,000 linear feet of the sea wall in Mill Neck village and repair the road. The project is expected to cost about $15 million.
The bridge repair will cost between $5 million and $6 million and unlike the road repair, relies on federal funding, Nassau County spokeswoman Mary Studdert said in an email. The repairs include cleaning and replacing mechanical and electrical systems.
“The federal funding for the bridge is not currently available and we do not want to hold up the construction of West Shore Road while we complete the design in NYSDOT [New York State Department of Transportation] specifications and wait for the bridge construction plans to be approved,” Studdert said.
Studdert said they expect NYSDOT approval in the fall of 2017 or the spring of 2018, meaning that construction could start in 2018.
The prospect of another season with bridge closures doesn’t sit well with Matthew Silver, general manager at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville. This summer the closures have delayed a Sweet 16 party and once came in between morning and afternoon weddings, prompting frantic calls from guests, Silver said.
“People get so upset and so flustered, and it’s not an easy detour,” Silver said.
He said the uncertainty could drive away business.
“If the bridge breaks around dinnertime and I lose 100 reservations, I can never get those reservations back,” Silver said.
Rich Valicenti, owner of Bridge Marina and treasurer of the Bayville Chamber of Commerce, said work on the road is “not an emergency; the bridge is more important.”
“It affects everyone,” Valicenti said. “This is a small community and we really do depend on the summer season; that’s where they need to make their revenue to get them through the winter.”