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Potholes on West Shore Road Challenge Autos and Passengers

Underlying conditions that cause these potholes need to be addressed

Believe it or not those craving the excitement and thrills of an off road driving adventure can approximate the experience by driving south on West Shore Road between Port Washington and Roslyn.

This stretch of Nassau County roadway approaching Fairway Drive has become a gauntlet, testing the skills and reflexes of drivers. Pity the unsuspecting traveler who finds himself bumping along challenging his car’s chassis and his own body. If you travel the road frequently you know what’s coming and have choices. Slow to a crawl keeping your auto whole but still risking “throwing your back out,” or swing to the left to avoid the potholes. This second alternative can be life threatening. Even though you check your rear view mirror for traffic coming up on your left, you risk being hit by a car exceeding the speed limit which just wasn’t there a second ago. This stretch of road is a serious accident just waiting to happen.

The process for citizens to report potholes to the county and obtain redress is simple. Call the Highway Division of the Department of Public Works and report the problem. The employee who takes the call reports the situation to a crew, which has the responsibility for road maintenance in the specific area where the potholes are reported. Then, the potholes are supposed to be filled in and the employee that you spoke to calls you back and says, “problem solved.”

Many local residents including this reporter have followed the appropriate procedure and registered complaints with the Highway Division of the Department of Public Works. A helpful employee in the highway division took my complaint not once but on three separate occasions. The first call in December resulted in a crew coming out and fixing a few of the potholes but mysteriously leaving the majority untouched.

The second call resulted in assurances that the remaining potholes would be reported and fixed. When I made the third call on Jan. 10, I was told that the crew had been out just that morning to repair the remaining potholes. I went out to check, and you guessed it, no repair. I came home to a ringing phone and the person on the other end said the crew had taken care of another stretch of road that morning and they would be back in the afternoon to work on the stretch of road I was complaining about. As of Jan. 15, the gaping holes are still there.

Several obvious issues need to be addressed. First, the employee I dealt with in the highway division, whose job it is to record a complaint, forward it to the appropriate work crew and then report back to the individual who made the complaint was exemplary. She was empathetic and as incredulous as I was that the problem had not been resolved.

Second, there has been an ongoing issue with respect to this stretch of road for some time and the underlying conditions that cause these potholes year after year need to be addressed for the long term.

After calls to the Nassau County Commissioner of Public Works and the County Press Office, Mike Martino, a representative of the Department of Public Works, issued the following statement through a spokesperson in County Executive Mangano’s office. “The Nassau County DPW will continue to monitor and maintain the road’s condition on a consistent basis, as is the normal procedure, throughout the winter months. County Executive Mangano has ensured that this stretch of road will undergo a major resurfacing project that is slated to begin in the spring of 2012 which will address these issues long term.” When a representative of the press office was asked if it would be a fair assumption to say that the county has no idea as to what is causing the persistent problem on West Shore Road, she said, “Yes.”

Theories as to what is causing the erosion of road abound among local residents. Some believe it is run off from Harbor Links Golf course, which is owned by the Town of North Hempstead. Others believe it to be runoff from the Port Washington fire department training facility on Shore Road. A conversation with Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman presents a more complex problem.

Supervisor Kaiman said the town is well aware of the water problem on West Shore Road near Fairway Drive. Although West Shore Road is a county road, the town has taken steps to ensure they are not part of the problem. The runoff from the golf course has been re-directed, and the town has taken the additional precaution of installing an overflow pipe. Supervisor Kaiman also said that a significant amount of the excess water from the golf course is caught and stored for future use on the course when water levels are low.

Supervisor Kaiman said that in an effort to assist in achieving a permanent solution to this problem, the Town Council would authorize an independent engineer to look at the conditions on town property to assure “we are not part of the problem.” Indeed, town employees believe the cause of the underlying water problem on West Shore Road may be one or more underground streams which have broken through to the surface, in which case depending upon the location of the streams a permanent solution to the problem will require the county and town governments to work together on a solution.

Kaiman says that representatives of the town are in frequent contact with the Nassau County Department of Public Works. “We have become good friends,” he said.

For all of us who travel West Shore Road, it is re-assuring that our public officials are attempting to find a long-range solution. Right now, I would settle for a short-term solution. In the meantime, hang on to your seats. The ride is still bumpy.