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Upgrade Project Along L.I.E. Will Replace Lighted Signs With Reflective Signs

Lane Closures Will Last From 10:30 p.m. To 6 a.m. 5 Nights A Week
Street signs for L.I.E. upgrade (credit: CBS 2)

Street signs for L.I.E. upgrade (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A project to replace street signs along the famously slow Long Island Expressway could make things even worse.

The upgrade project will begin later this week and could take up to a year as crews install nearly 1,000 new signs, according to the state.

There will be nighttime lane closures along a 56-mile stretch of the L.I.E. in both directions. The project will bring the street signs along the Expressway up to federal sign standards.

“The number one reason why we’re doing this is to improve safety,” New York State Department Of Transportation spokesperson Eileen Peters told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff on Thursday.

Every lighted sign along the L.I.E. is being replaced with a new highly reflective sign. The state said the upgrades will help save money.

“There will no longer be a need for lighting the signs, so we won’t have to pay electric bills and also maintenance costs,” Peters said.

“Your headlights will be enough glow to where you’ll be able to see the reflecterization,” construction worker Natale Cardino said.

DOT officials said the lighted signs are outdated, hard to see in the rain and wasteful.

The sign replacement project will begin at the city line heading eastbound. There will be lane closures as crews work on the upgrades one mile at a time, from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. five nights a week.

Once the construction crews reach the end of the line at Exit 73, they will turn back and upgrade the westbound signs, according to state officials.

This will be the largest sign replacement effort in state history, costing nearly $8 million. However, the DOT said that the new signs will save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Some Long Islanders said they are not looking forward to the project.

“It’s just going to make people”s lives miserable,” June Rivera told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.

“Getting home late and finding an alternate route is not fun for a mom who has to get up early with her kids,” said Rebekah Gibbs of Roslyn.

“If I’m going to figure out an alternative route, that means everyone is going to do what I’m doing,” added Jackie Robinson, a commuter from Manhattan.

But others said they understand the necessity and don’t mind a little inconvenience.

“I guess if it benefits the future of New York, it’s good,” said Tony Nicaj of Bayside.

“If it has to be done, I think those are good hours to do it. It’s better than doing it in rush hour,” Bayside’s Ruby Silver added.

“We’ll just have to grin and bear it until it’s completed,” Alan Wolpert of Roslyn said.

Once crews are done upgrading street signs on the L.I.E., they will move on to Long Island’s parkways, according to the state.

The DOT is advising drivers to call 511 to find out where the closures are each night.

Will you make plans around the upgrade project to avoid the lane closures? Share your comments below…