Officials at the New York State Department of Transportation cannot say for sure when construction work will begin on the completion of a sound barrier wall along Powerhouse Road, a service road of the Long Island Expressway in Roslyn Heights.
All DOT officials could say was that they hope to have work on the wall started during "this construction season." That means they hope the job will be completed anywhere between April and November of this year. DOT officials added that they have numerous construction jobs along the LIE already in progress. Those must be completed before work on the Roslyn Heights service road can begin. DOT officials also have to deal with how the construction project was thrust back upon them.
The project was given new life thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Appellate Court allowing construction to go forward. The decision reversed an earlier State Supreme Court decision, which had halted construction back on July 27, 2000. It also reflects the desires of local residents, who have long wanted the sound barrier erected.
Last winter, members of the Roslyn Heights Civic Association held a public meeting to once again state that such a wall is necessary to combat excess noise levels from the expressway.
When construction on the sound barrier was halted in 2000, it left a 250-ft. gap on Powerhouse Road. As a result, the noise levels exceeded federal guidelines. Chris Cavaliere, president of the civic association, noted that Roslyn Heights has been the only village on Long Island that has such a large gap between sound barrier walls.
In the past, Cavaliere has said that a wall is necessary not only because of current conditions, but also when current LIE renovation is finished. When the latter happens, Cavaliere said at the February 2003 meeting, the LIE will become an eight-lane highway, with the roads only 60 feet from certain Roslyn Heights neighborhoods. In addition, there is the matter of traffic coming from the Harbor Links Golf Course and eventually, from the senior housing development in downtown Roslyn.
In the summer of 2000, the civic association first expressed its desire to see a sound barrier wall constructed. Any plans by the DOT to build a wall were denied by a July 27, 2000 stop work order, one issued by Nassau County Judge Thomas A. Adams. However, the DOT had earlier concluded that the area between Roslyn Road and Mineola Avenue did not meet the noise abatement threshold required for a sound barrier. A study by that department concluded that the cost for such a wall would outweigh whatever "value for improvement" the wall might bring.
Doreen Banks, then a town councilmember and Linda Brickman of the town's Planning Department soon met with DOT officials, who themselves agreed to reconsider its earlier decision. In the meantime, several Roslyn Heights businesses filed legal action against such construction. Lawyers for the businesses claimed that a wall would adversely affect their properties, on both practical and environmental grounds.
In December 2000, the town board passed a resolution in support of a sound barrier wall. The resolution put the board "on record" in their support of Roslyn Heights residents who wanted a wall. It also urged state officials to "take all necessary and lawful measures, in litigation and otherwise, to implement the construction of sound barrier walls on the north side of the LIE between Roslyn Road and Mineola Avenue."