Covert Avenue construction going to be a war zone: Montreuil

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The building at 115 New Hyde Park Road, scheduled for demolition. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The month of March and the complete closure of Covert Avenue for elimination of its Long Island Rail Road grade crossing are fast approaching, Village of New Hyde Park Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said.

With that in mind, Montreuil told residents at a village board meeting Tuesday night that he did not want to sugarcoat the topic and based on information he has received from the project coordinators, the area is going to be something residents have never seen before.

“This is going to be a war zone,” Montreuil said. There is going to be an “unimaginable” amount of equipment and manpower present at the site, he added.

The total closure of Covert Avenue had been delayed, according to village officials. Village Trustee Rainer Burger said that the full closure may occur in March.

The month of January will see heavier construction continue, according to the LIRR Expansion monthly update, and the project’s timelines are subject to change.

Partial lane closures on Covert Avenue will be common, according to the project’s website.

By eliminating the at-grade crossing at Covert Avenue, noise levels will be noticeably lower, according to village officials. The new underpass will also improve traffic flow and make the community safer.

The crossing is one of seven that will be eliminated during the third rail project.

The project, which will add a track to the 9.8-mile main line from Floral Park to Hicksville, will include upgrades to six stations, including Carle Place, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Hicksville and New Cassel.

The demolition of a commercial building in New Hyde Park adjacent to the expansion of the Long Island Rail Road’s third track has been pushed back,  Burger said.

The demolition of a storage-unit facility located at 115 New Hyde Park Road is slated for sometime in late February or early March, he said.

The demolition was initially scheduled potentially for mid-January, according to Burger, following the removal of an abandoned commercial building a half mile down Second Avenue at 124 Covert Ave. in December.

The building will be taken down before the elimination of the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing, which is currently scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, according to MTA Deputy Communications Director Aaron Donovan.

Environmental testing is currently being done in the area to determine when and how the building can be demolished, according to Donovan. There is no delay in the schedule of the New Hyde Park Road grade crossing, he added.

A larger amount of asbestos than anticipated was found in the building, according to Burger, and an abatement plan is being developed.

Covert Avenue remains the most concentrated area of work in the New Hyde Park area. Utility work and underground relocation will continue through the month, according to Burger, in preparation for the eventual closure of Covert Avenue to construct the undergrade crossing.

Burger, the village board’s liaison to the LIRR third track expansion project, has been meeting frequently with both the MTA and 3TC, the contractor responsible for most of the project’s construction.

Also at the meeting, Burger and Montreuil said that they were not made aware of night work being done this week by EJ Electric, a subcontractor of 3TC, until after they had already received the information from workers on site.

In order to construct the undergrade crossing, 180 steel poles will be driven into the ground at Covert Avenue. Most of the driving will take place during the day, aside from 15 poles, to prevent disturbances to residents at night, Burger said.

The poles are also going to be inserted into the ground using vibrational technology, rather than pounding them, in an effort to further mitigate noise concerns, Burger said.

The village board also recently saw the plans for the first time for the temporary relocation of fire equipment and resources, to be set up in the community parking lot on South 12th Street, just south of the LIRR tracks.

The plans are currently under review, and detail a 30-by-60-foot structure to temporarily house New Hyde Park Fire Department equipment.

The Fire Department is located north of the LIRR tracks where the construction will be taking place.

The relocation of equipment will allow for adequate response times in emergencies while construction is going on in the area, village officials said.

At the meeting, Burger said that the plans do not meet the village board’s or the Fire Department’s requirements and that a hold is currently being placed on the permits for that structure until “a middle ground,” is reached.

As an effort to continue engaging the nearby communities, the project expansion team recently invited residents to take part in the Design-Builder Incentive Program.

The feedback helps determine whether 3TC earns the incentive payment for this quarter and is instrumental in improving construction techniques, as well as project communications and outreach efforts, according to the project website.

The scorecard has been mailed to all residents that live within 400 feet of any of the project’s elements, according to the website. The scorecard is also available online and at New Hyde Park Village Hall, among other locations in the area.

Burger, 3TC and MTA representatives have also discussed traffic mitigation plans for when construction increases and materials need to be transported. Burger asked that the contractors determine when the majority of trucks will be delivering resources to the project site, to better plan alternative routes.

One resident at the meeting posed the idea that materials could be transported to the site via the railroad, but, according to Montreuil, that option was considered and dismissed early in the planning of the project because of its potential impact on LIRR commuter service.

One option being considered is using a small, temporary road at the end of Third Avenue to create a loop near the project site, connecting to Fifth Avenue, having trucks drive alongside the railroad route, eliminating the noise of trucks constantly backing out, according to Burger. 3TC will review the plan to see if it is a viable alternative and less disruptive.

Burger said the village is committed to communicating to the community when the materials will be hauled, to better prepare residents for increased traffic disruption.

 

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