Rockland County Highway Department Bridge Engineer Joe Pyzowski met with local residents Wednesday to give them an update on construction along New Hempstead Road at a public forum set up by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Legislator Ed Day.
Pyzowski is the project manager for the New Hempstead Road construction and said the project will most likely take longer than expected.
“The project was [initially] 28 months,” he said. “Due to Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, the big snowstorm we had last October, we’re looking at probably adding three months to that.”
Pyzowski added that some time was made up due to the warm winter, but not enough to get the entire project, which is about halfway done, back on schedule. He said the project was broken up into three phases, with the first being to build the temporary bridge at the bottom of New Hempstead. Pyzowski said they wanted to get that done in 2011, which they did.
“The second goal was to rebuild the section of the road between Main Street and Little Tor Road, and get that all reopened and completely done before the end of 2012, including the ‘S’ curve,” he said. “We’re still working on that, as everyone can see.”
The final stage is completing the project from Little Tor up to the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The completed New Hempstead Road project will have a lane going in each direction and five-foot wide shoulders on each side. The four-way intersection at Little Tor will be expanded.
Zebrowski said that as New City residents, he and Day are certainly aware of the issues the construction has caused.
“We’re dealing with it as well, probably not to same extent as many of the residents who live directly on this road and have to deal with it,” he said.
Day told the group of about 20 to blame him for some of the traffic backups on the street.
“I was adamant that there would be no formal detours through residential streets,” he said. “New Hempstead Road will remain open, it will pull traffic, but I was not going to have a situation where local residents were going to have to deal with dozens, hundreds of cars going through their streets speeding around, trying to find another way. They do it anyway, but I’m not going to invite them.”
The meeting was held along New Hempstead Road at Temple Beth Sholom, which one woman at the meeting said made sense since it would allow everyone to “pray for the project to be finished.”
The group voiced a variety of concerns relating to the construction, from noise to people working during rush hour to blind spots created by barriers that make it hard to turn onto New Hempstead from side streets. One woman said she has lived in her current house for 44 years and they’ve never had a problem with water in their driveway until the construction started.
Pyzowski told residents with specific issues to call his office or email him and he would set up a time to visit their property to get a closer look at their issues.
Walter Litvak wanted to see more accountability for the workers. He said he’s noticed issues created by the workers that a project manager or someone in charge should notice and fix.
Some of those issues included leaving manhole covers raised inches off the street and not putting any asphalt around to help drivers and workers who parkconstruction vehicles in the middle of the road, blocking a lane and creating a long backup.
“They’re doing what’s most convenient for them, not us,” Litvak said.
When told to reach out to Pyzowski or Day about the issues, Litvak said he’s happy to do it and will, but he doesn’t want to have to do it every day.
“These are simple things someone in charge should be on top of,” he said. “I’m not on the payroll.”
Day said it’s important for people to reach out and say something if they see an issue with the construction. He also said that if representatives from the county, state, town, law enforcement agencies and contractors weren’t working together as much as they have, the entire project could be moving less efficiently.
“Your annoyances are coming to an end,” Day told the group. “Slowly.”