WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A deteriorating, heavily-used Long Island bridge over railroad tracks is going to be replaced.
But as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, that means a year of detoured traffic, and snarled road closures near the busy Roosevelt Field Mall in Nassau County.READ MORE: Manorhaven Gets Nassau County Funding For $6 Million Main Street Refurbishment
The Ellison Avenue Bridge has been the subject of complaints for two decades, and it is finally getting its long-awaited facelift. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will now begin to replace the crumbling 75-year-old structure that carries cars above the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Westbury.
“Repair has been something that’s been necessitated for years,” said Westbury building inspector William Mello. “It’s slowly gotten to the point where the whole surface is now covered with steel plates.”
The steel plates thump all day, and drivers have only to peer out their windows to see scary holes in the concrete and rusted retention bars, and wonder how much longer it could remain rated safe enough to carry the load.
But progress comes with a price.
“Unhappy about the traffic – very unhappy about it,” said Westbury shopper Linda Haze. “It is definitely going to impact shoppers.”
The Ellison Avenue Bridge, two blocks north of Old Country Road near the Roosevelt Field Mall, is a major thoroughfare used by thousands of North Shore shoppers to travel to Nassau’s hub.
Those shoppers are not thrilled that the bridge will be closed for a year.READ MORE: Hit-And-Run Driver Slams Into Married Couple Leaving Suffern Christmas Parade
“It is going to be a big imposition,” said Westbury homeowner Marcia McNair. “This is already a high-traffic area anyway.”
The Westbury Village Hall is holding informational meetings, letting residents know that some of their residential streets will soon be used to handle the detoured traffic.
“I’m concerned about, you know, anybody who uses the bridge, and what is going to happen during the course of the construction project, but also the surrounding neighborhood, and to make sure their issues and security is taken care of,” said Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro.
The MTA said it is listening and responsive.
“The LIRR is working closely with the community to minimize the impact on the neighborhood and will not proceed until everyone agrees on a plan,” the MTA said in a statement.
The LIRR agrees the bridge is absolutely necessary, saying that is why it came through with $39 million for Ellison Avenue. But that did not detract from the inconvenience of the planned closure.
“Traveling to get your children, running errands – I mean, it’s going to be troublesome for a lot of people,” said Westbury shopper Dina Khan.MORE NEWS: 'Trees For Troops' Spreads Holiday Cheer To Brave Americans Stationed Overseas
The year-long rebuild and reroute begins next month. Westbury village officials said monitors will be watching rerouted traffic for scofflaws who may try to speed through detoured streets.