Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 03 September 2010 00:00
While there has been plenty of commentary on the delayed Jackson Avenue improvement project over the years, perhaps Legislator Judy Jacobs said it best: “There were more bumps and detours on the road to reaching an agreement than the ones on Jackson Avenue itself,” said Jacobs.
Nevertheless, bumps and all, on Thursday, Aug. 26, the Nassau County Legislature passed the Inter Municipal Agreement (IMA) with the Town of Oyster Bay, transferring responsibility for a segment of the road to the town, in a unanimous vote. Now, all that remains is for the town to send the project out for bidding, which is expected to occur within the standard time allotment of 45 days. According to town officials, construction should begin on the new and improved Jackson Avenue before the end of the year.
Currently riddled with potholes, the slated improvements for the section of Jackson Avenue between the intersection with Jericho Turnpike and the LIRR tracks include repaving, drainage, re-alignment, construction of new sidewalks, and the additions of shoulders and a turning lane. The road will also receive an additional traffic light.
In April, after Jacobs approached Town Supervisor Venditto about finding a way to get the project back on the agenda, the town stepped forward to fill the void left by revoked federal stimulus funds, and planned to split the cost of the project with the county, an estimated $6 million. At that time, it was believed that construction might start as early as mid-2010.
Town officials decided that once the road became the town’s responsibility, it would need to be built to town specifications, according to Town Councilman Chris Coschignano, necessitating a delay while new plans were prepared. While the town’s plan calls for less asphalt and is thus cheaper than the original county plan, some, like Mark Herbst, executive director of the LI Contractors Association, doubted at the time that the savings would offset the greater costs of the project potentially being stalled until winter and encountering winter weather problems.
However, now that the town is officially helming the project, Herbst regards the project with more optimism. “My conversations with Supervisor Venditto’s staff and the commissioner of public works are that they’re doing everything possible to expedite the process,” said Herbst. “I have confidence in them; they’re as genuine in their efforts to get this project moving as we are.”
According to Herbst, while the possibility of a protracted bidding period can never be completely ruled out- especially in the current economy, when some contractors may be bidding for jobs they aren’t necessarily qualified to do out of desperation- he sees no particular reason to anticipate a delay beyond the standard 45-day bidding period.
Jacobs thanked Herbst for his role in urging all of the parties involved to join together, and also praised Laura Schultz of Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset, who is sometimes referred to as the “Brownie Lady.” “…those brownies went a long way to sweeten the winding road to completion,” said Jacobs.
Jacob’s also praised Venditto’s commitment to the project. “John Venditto is a person of his word and has, without question, enabled this project to be done in a bi-partisan fashion. My deepest appreciation to Mr. Venditto. He and I both share the vision that politics has no role in the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” said Jacobs.
County Executive Mangano also thanked Venditto, and gave the whole endeavor his stamp of approval. “This is an example of good government, and finding ways to save taxpayer dollars,” said Mangano. “By sharing the costs associated with these sorely needed improvements, the people are well served. I am proud of the work we have done for the people. This has been a long time in the making,” he concluded.
“This is one road which paved the way for true bi-partisan solutions. This is truly one of the more important local issues I have dealt with. I wish delays were not inherent in this type of construction, but, unfortunately, they are. The people of the community, I believe, know that their safety was my motivation, always,” concluded Jacobs.