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OpinionColumnistsMichael Dobie

Route 25A/Jericho Tpke. road not taken

The problem and the solution pitched in 1967 by the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board — 51 years ago this month.

A news story that ran in May 1967.

A news story that ran in May 1967. Photo Credit: Newsday

Jericho Turnpike is congested. So is Route 25A. Transportation alternatives are needed for the North Shore.

How about a 36-mile, six-lane expressway running in between the two roads, from eastern Nassau County to the William Floyd Parkway, with connections at its ends to two bridges — a Bayville-to-Westchester County span and another from Shoreham to Connecticut?

That was the problem and the solution pitched in 1967 by the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board — 51 years ago this month.

Much of the expressway presented by planning board executive director Lee Koppelman would have run along an expanded right of way of the LIRR’s Port Jefferson line, which also would have seen upgrades — the line was to be laid below ground level, its curves and grades removed, and two tracks added for two-way express service and “to accomplish 70-80 mile-an-hour speeds,” the planning board study said.

Newsday’s story said the plan was supported by county Executives Eugene Nickerson of Nassau and H. Lee Dennison of Suffolk. It also noted that Koppelman said the proposal had initial approval from the LIRR, the State Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (now the MTA), and that it had been greeted with “favorable” opinion in meetings with various village officials and the planning board chairmen of Huntington, Smithtown and Brookhaven towns.

So what happened?

Here’s a clue: The story did not mention the force of nature that has scuttled one North Shore bridge proposal after another — the public.

Given the hundreds of people who have been turning up to protest Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed tunnel from the end of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway to Westchester County, they’re still at it — a half-century later.

 

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