New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Executive Deputy Commissioner Stan Gee, New York State Assembly Member Michael Cusick, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, New York City Council Members Michael McMahon and James Oddo, and Staten Island Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Linda Baran heralded an upcoming project to improve vehicular access to the Staten Island Expressway (Interstate 278) between Renwick Avenue and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
The project will reconfigure entrance and exit ramps in both the eastbound and westbound directions along the 2-mi. (3.2 km) section of highway. Currently in the early design stage and with construction slated to begin in spring of 2010, the project will construct six new ramps, relocate two ramps farther down from their present locations, and make enhancements to two other access points.
“Under the leadership of Governor David A. Paterson and Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn, the New York State Department of Transportation stands committed to improving travel along this vital corridor,” said Gee. “The Staten Island Expressway is a critical link for commuters and commerce on the island, and this effort is one in a series of improvements that will make a noticeable difference in the lives of Staten Islanders, particularly those in the communities that border the highway. This project has been a collaborative effort with those communities, their elected representatives and state and city agencies, and we look forward to continued collaboration as the project works through the final design stages.”
NYSDOT has presented the project to local community boards and elected officials during the planning stages, with another series of community meetings expected in late September and early October to focus on more detailed design issues.
“Governor Paterson and Commissioner Glynn must be commended for recognizing the importance of advancing projects such as this one, even under challenging fiscal conditions,” said Cusick. “The Staten Island Expressway is essential to the regional transportation network, and these improvements will have a significant positive effect on the lives of Staten Island commuters.”
“I am very excited about the new entrance and exit ramps proposed for the Staten Island Expressway,” said Molinaro. “I sincerely hope that the financial situation New York State is now facing does not delay these important improvements.”
“The 10 improvements to the Staten Island Expressway we are announcing today should provide a major improvement to our island traffic nightmare,” said McMahon. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am pleased to be able to announce that we are moving in the right direction. For too long we have been stuck in traffic and these remediations should go a long way in breaking that traffic logjam.”
“The Staten Island Expressway fails to live up to its name and the proposed changes are tangible steps we can take to improve traffic flow and the commutes of Staten Islanders,” said Oddo. “Improving this corridor is a major challenge that can be achieved through a united effort of all the island’s elected officials working in unison with our partners in government at NYSDOT. Let’s hope this is the first of many such announcements.”
“The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Governor Paterson and NYSDOT Commissioner Glynn for their commitment to both fund and construct these improvements to the Staten Island Expressway in the near future,” said Baran. “With the volume of cars rising every year on this overcrowded highway, these kinds of access improvements are absolutely necessary. The increased access will help facilitate the traffic flow on the expressway while also reducing congestion and pollution at key intersections on Staten Island. This is a win-win for the residential and business community here on Staten Island.”
Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the Staten Island Expressway today serves 170,000 motorists daily. Through ongoing discussions with the communities, elected officials and agency partners, and based on detailed study of current travel patterns, NYSDOT will be presenting the following improvements to the community boards in the fall:
• New eastbound exit ramp to Hylan Boulevard
• New eastbound entrance ramp from Hylan Boulevard
• New eastbound exit ramp to Fingerboard Road
• New westbound exit ramp to Hylan Boulevard
• New westbound entrance ramp from Hylan Boulevard
• New westbound exit ramp to Fingerboard Road
• Relocation of eastbound entrance ramp from Targee Street
• Relocation of westbound exit ramp to Targee Street
• Intersection improvements at Clove Road and Narrows Road North
• Improvements to westbound exit ramp to Clove Road
NYSDOT also will widen the Fingerboard Road overpass to improve traffic flow on the overpass while creating space for the construction of auxiliary lanes on the Staten Island Expressway between Fingerboard Road and Hylan Boulevard. A portion of the funding for design and construction of this component is being provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in connection with work at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza.
Budgeted at approximately $50 million, the project contains $18.6 million of funds dedicated as part of the 2005 Rebuild and Renew Transportation Bond Act. The project includes additional funding from federal and state resources.
In addition, Gee introduced Janitha Rajakaruna as the first NYSDOT Staten Island Community Engineering Liaison. This position has been created to provide Staten Island residents with a direct contact for their engineering questions and concerns relating to NYSDOT facilities. Rajakaruna has served as Staten Island resident engineer for the department since 1996. In that role, which she will continue to hold, Rajakaruna monitors the condition of NYSDOT facilities on the Staten Island, Martin Luther King and West Shore Expressways and the Korean War Veterans Parkway, working with the New York City Department of Transportation to ensure they are properly and promptly maintained.
For more information, call 347/672-0840.