NYSDOT Breaks Ground on Largest Recovery Act Project

Staten Island Contract Will Reconstruct, Modernize Expressway

ALBANY, NY (09/20/2010)(readMedia)-- New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee today was joined by Congressman Michael McMahon, Borough President James Molinaro and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez to mark the start of construction on a $74.8 million project to reconstruct and modernize a 1.8-mile segment of the Staten Island Expressway (SIE), the main commuter and freight corridor in Staten Island and one of the most heavily traveled highways in New York City. The project is funded by both the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 2005 New York State Bond Act.

"Investing in our transportation infrastructure is an ongoing necessity in order to assure that New York's roadways meet the needs of our traveling public," said Governor David A. Paterson. "Projects like the Staten Island Expressway provide a boost to our economy bringing job opportunities to project locations, and ultimately help motorists by saving them time and frustration from long commutes. I commend the State Department of Transportation for their ongoing efforts to assure the safety and reliability of our roadways."

"The new ramps and lanes that are part of the Staten Island Expressway access improvement project will make it safer and easier to get onto and off of the highway for the numerous commuters and delivery trucks that travel this congested corridor each day," Acting Commissioner Gee said. "I thank Governor Paterson, Congressman McMahon and our many partners for helping make this project possible."

Senator Charles Schumer said, "Rebuilding and improving the perpetually clogged Staten Island Expressway is music to the ears of every Staten Islander. This project is a win-win that will improve travel for Staten Island drivers – and create much needed jobs in the process."

Congressman McMahon said, "For far too long, Staten Island has been synonymous with traffic and congestion. The SIE, often referred to as 'the world's longest parking lot', is the poster child for these claims. Since joining Congress, I have made improving access and expanding lanes on this highway my number one priority. I am pleased to announce that this access improvement project begins today. By reconfiguring these ramps, traffic will improve not only on the highway but also in surrounding neighborhoods. I would like to thank Governor Paterson and NYS DOT Acting Commissioner Gee for allocating these funds to this critical project."

Administrator Mendez said, "Residents and commuters will spend less time stuck in traffic and get where they need to go more quickly. This investment from the Recovery Act will improve livability in the community and the new jobs will help stimulate the city's economy."

The Staten Island Expressway (SIE), also known as Interstate 278, carries up to 190,000 vehicles each day. The SIE Access Improvements project will revise the layout of the entrance and exit ramps on the highway between the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza and Clove Road for the first time since the road opened in 1964. By reconfiguring the ramps in both directions, the SIE Access Improvements project will result in a facility that better meets the needs of Staten Island residents. Ramps to the highway will be relocated to allow motorists to avoid busy local streets when entering the expressway and to allow motorists to exit closer to their destinations. Points of conflict associated with entering and exiting vehicles will be eliminated.

Funding for the project includes $39.5 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the largest single allocation of these funds for any NYSDOT project statewide. Additional funding sources include the 2005 Bond Act and federal interstate maintenance funding.

Major improvements in the eastbound direction include new entrance ramps from Clove Road and Hylan Boulevard, new exit ramps near Targee Street and Fingerboard Road, and improvements to the Lily Pond Avenue and Father Capodanno Boulevard entrance ramps. Eastbound work will also include auxiliary lanes connecting the new ramps and the closure of the Targee Street entrance ramp.

In the westbound direction, improvements include a new entrance ramp near Targee Street and new exit ramps near Fingerboard Road, Hylan Boulevard and Clove Road. Westbound work will also include the extension of Lincoln Place to connect with Narrows Road North and the closure of the entrance ramp near Lincoln Place. Auxiliary lanes connecting the new entrance and exit ramps will be built. Work to widen the Fingerboard Road bridge will accommodate the new auxiliary lanes on the expressway and will also permit the addition of a turning lane on the bridge.

Construction is being performed by The Laquila Group of Brooklyn, NY, with design consulting services provided by PB Americas of New York, NY. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2012. During construction, all travel lanes on the expressway will be maintained throughout morning and evening peak periods, and existing access ramps will be kept open until replacements are open to traffic.

State Senator Diane Savino said, "Any delay in improving transportation and traffic flow through common sense, fully funded projects is unacceptable. The happy ending to this story is, thanks to the State DOT's work in concert with Island elected officials, we will soon see less delays flow through this notoriously rough stretch of our commute to and from work and school."

State Senator Andrew Lanza said, "The projects getting underway today are an investment in the future of Staten Island. These modernizations will enhance the flow of traffic on the Staten Island Expressway -- a critical link which Staten Islanders and the entire region rely on. I commend acting State DOT Commissioner Stanley Gee and his staff for focusing their attention on Staten Island's traffic problems and delivering real solutions to those problems."

Assembly Member Janele Hyer-Spencer said, "This project will go a long way to reducing traffic congestion and making the Expressway safer. This is exactly the kind of improvement Staten Island commuters deserve."

Assembly Member Matthew Titone said, "I am thrilled that the ground breaking on these access improvements to the Staten Island Expressway is taking place. I would like to thank Congressman Michael McMahon for all his hard work with Governor David Paterson and New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee to secure the federal funding needed to bring this project to fruition. Upgrading our infrastructure here on Staten Island is a priority for me, Congressman McMahon, my colleagues in government, and all Staten Islanders. These improvements will reduce congestion on the Staten Island Expressway and pollution for the surrounding neighborhoods. We need to continue to work together on these large-scale transit improvements, and that is what I pledge to do in the NYS Assembly."

Assembly Member Michael Cusick said, "This funding is an essential investment in our island's infrastructure. That's why I voted to put the New York State Bond Act of 2005 on the ballot. The people chose to adopt it, and now this funding, along with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will help to ease traffic on the often congested Staten Island Expressway. The construction will not only help with traffic consideration, but it will create much needed jobs in our communities, a serious consideration during these trying times."

Borough President James Molinaro said, "The improvements planned for the Staten Island Expressway after half a century of service to 190,000 vehicles a day are timely and much needed."

City Council Member Debi Rose said, "I am pleased that this long-awaited project will begin. Improvements to the eight on- and off-ramps nearest to the Verrazano Bridge, along with the widening of the Fingerboard Road overpass and other improvements, will help alleviate the traffic problems that have long plagued drivers that utilize the Staten Island Expressway."

City Council Member James Oddo said, "State DOT has a plan for the Staten Island Expressway. Excellent news. The funding is finally secured. Even better news. The improvements will help ease conditions on the Staten Island Expressway. Priceless. I have to admit that Congressman McMahon and I were climbing a ledge the past few weeks waiting for all issues to be resolved. We put a lot of time, effort, and energy into getting help for the Staten Island Expressway and we are thrilled that the roadblocks are gone and much needed improvements will be delivered. A special thanks to DOT Acting Commissioner Gee and Regional Director Eng for promising action and delivering."

Denise Richardson, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, the association that represents New York City's unionized heavy civil and public works contractors, said, "The Staten Island Expressway Access Improvement project is not only vital to the residents and businesses of Staten Island but highlights the critical need for infrastructure investment and the important role of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 2005 New York State Bond Act. Without these programs, the rebuilding of the Staten Island Expressway would not have been possible. I-278 is the lifeline of this borough and for that reason the federal government must pass a fully funded federal transportation bill so that other critical projects like this one, but stalled on the drawing board, can move forward."