Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
(Photo courtesy of Peter Scalamandre & Sons Inc.)
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is investing $71.4 million to reconstruct and modernize a key segment of State Route 347.
Located in Suffolk County, the project is adding new travel lanes, signals, crosswalks and other improvements to a 2-mi. section of the roadway between Gibbs Pond Road and Hallock Road in the towns of Smithtown and Brookhaven.
Crews from Peter Scalamandre & Sons Inc. began the work this past December, a year ahead of schedule. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The initiative, part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), is being financed by federal and state funds.
The work constitutes the latest phase in the NYSDOT's ongoing initiative to ease congestion, improve mobility and enhance safety along the busy Long Island roadway by transforming a 12-mi. stretch between State Routes 454 and 25A into a multi-modal, environmentally sustainable boulevard for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.
Constructed in the 1950s as a farm delivery route, State Route 347 , also known as the Smithtown Bypass, grew along with the suburban development boom and has become a major east-west corridor for Long Island motorists.
"Building on the success of five earlier phases of the State Route 347 modernization, the new phase will reimagine the roadway by adding a new road surface, raised planted medians and a continuous third travel lane in both directions," according to NYSDOT.
"Intersections with local roads and the Smith Haven Mall entrances will also be enhanced with new traffic signals and turning lanes to improve traffic flow. Other improvements include enhanced bus stops with pull-off areas for buses, shaded shelters and solar-powered lighting, solar-powered pedestrian level lighting at intersections, coordinated traffic signals that reduce congestion and high-visibility crosswalks with pedestrian countdown timers
"The Parks to Ports Greenway shared-use path that's adjacent to the road's eastbound lanes will also be extended by an additional two miles as part of the project," NYSDOT added.
Bicycle racks and informational panels with details about the local community and environment also are being added. New landscaping, a rain garden and greenway stop with benches and informational panels are planned for along the roadway.
"Rain gardens improve the collection and treatment of storm water runoff in an environmentally-friendly manner by creating a natural filtration system," NYSDOT said.
The ongoing project was designed by NYSDOT consultants Greenman - Pedersen Inc.
The project also had to contend with the challenges of having to maintain two lanes of traffic and access to all adjacent properties during construction and to coordinate with various utility companies to maintain public services in the area, said Glenn Blain, NYSDOT spokesman.
"The design maximizes construction by widening the roadway footprint to install an additional eastbound and westbound travel lane on State Route 347, a shared use path and other roadway features. Retaining walls, profile adjustments, etc., are also being used to minimize impacts to the adjacent properties."
The current features of Route 347 are inadequate to handle the significant volumes of motorists and trucks that now use this roadway, which was constructed in the 1960s, according to NYSDOT.
"In 1969, an average of 48,000 vehicles per day used Route 347. Presently there are an estimated 71,000 vehicles per day using this road. Increased accidents, traffic congestion, lack of continuous sidewalks and limited turning lanes are safety and traffic flow concerns that need to be addressed to improve mobility, and driver and pedestrian safety.
"Over the past decade, the DOT has worked closely with communities and officials to develop project features and designs that meet safety and mobility objectives as well as the needs of local communities and businesses. The ‘community sensitive' Green Route 347 alternative will make this roadway safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, while addressing issues raised by the local communities."
Five sections have been completed thus far: the $26.8 million Veterans Memorial Highway to Hampauge Road section in 2013; the $30.5 million Hampauge Road to Mount Pleasant Road section in 2015; the $26.5 million NYS Route 112 Intersection in 2015; the $39.2 million Mount Pleasant Road to Terry Road section in 2017; and the $36.3 million Terry Road to Gibbs Pond Road section in 2017.
So far, Peter Scalamandre & Sons has completed all the clearing and grubbing, the recharge basins and the pipe section running the drainage into them. Operations are ongoing for the electrical, gas and water main installations.
"We are actively doing drainage work, which includes the leaching and catch basins and reinforced concrete pipe —15 to 60 inch," said Project Manager Chris Lacagnina. "We are also installing retaining walls and dense concrete walls. Over the next 12 months, we're going to be doing the noise wall foundations and panels and continue with the drainage work. We just finished the steel sheeting and our electrical subcontractor is working on the new traffic signal poles, putting in all the wiring.
"The recharge basins with the landscaping, as well as the chain link fence, are going in. We'll be doing some major earthwork, digging out the roadway and widening. The project has its challenges.
"Right now, most of the industry is seeing long lead times on materials, as well as procuring materials," said Lacagnina. "We're having issues obtaining a lot of the materials we need."
Peter Scalamandre & Sons has some night work planned in the future.
"We did some directional drilling overnight and drainage crossings across SR 347 to not impact the travelling public during the day. We're right on schedule. We're trying to finish Phase 1 as soon as possible and progress to Phase 2 and get the pipes set. There is always going to be utility conflicts here and there and we have some sewer conflicts with our drainage runs and a few gas and electric ones. We're working with the utility companies."
Lacagnina has two construction yards and the westbound shoulder lane is basically closed for the duration of Phase 1.
"This allows us to work safely," he said. "We don't plan on shutting down in the winter. We're going to continue as long as we can and look to do earthwork and drainage.
"The relationship with the DOT is great. We speak and meet every day and we have weekly meetings. We both have offices in the same building. The second something happens, we'll sit down and hash it out."
Current operations are focusing on setting the site up for the road work.
"We have the westbound MPT detour along the shoulder giving us access to install the drainage infrastructure and for any crossings," said Lacagnina.
In terms of asphalt paved lanes, crews will install a bike lane in the eastbound direction and widen the roads to provide more room on each side of the road.
"They are going to increase the roadway with three lanes in each direction — they will have a wider shoulder and bigger turning lanes at each intersection or driveway," said Lacagnina.
Project Supervisor Keith Bigbie added that "the work is straightforward. Like anything else in heavy construction, it's just the supply chain issues that we are having. We're trying to get materials and dealing with inflation and freight carrying charges. This makes the project more challenging as we try to meet and exceed production."
The project is being completed in four phases and ensuring there is sufficient storage space is a constant issue.
"We have limited space and the stockpiles for the earth that has been excavated can only get so big," said Lacagnina. "But we're probably 90 percent done on the major clearing and grubbing and now the earthwork will concentrate along the roadways."
The excavated material has been tested and classified as Select Plus.
"We're able to use all of it for our drainage work," said Lacagnina. "So it's a pretty green project in that everything we dig up can be reused as backfill. Nothing has to be trucked away or disposed of that is not warranted or needed."
There is no bridge work in any of the phases.
The management team includes: General Superintendent Thomas Hayes and Project Administrator Thomas Boccard.
"It's a collaborative team effort," said Lacagnina. "We all know each other and have worked together for many years. Boccard does all the paperwork and provides anything the state needs. Hayes provides anything involving manpower and equipment-wise that Keith needs. He's on it. We have some of the greatest guys in the union. We have some of the hardest working people in the field."
Excavation should have crews remove 83,610 cu. yds. of various materials. New materials should include 86,108 tons of HMA pavement; 1,620 cu. yds. of concrete retaining walls; 27,550 linear ft. of reinforced concrete pipe; 1,852 cu. yds. of concrete flatwork; and 4,329 tons of HMA for the bike paths.
There are between 50 and 60 Scalamandre crew members and approximately 15 subcontractor employees on site. The subcontractors are Araz Industries for watermains, Bohemia Garden Center Inc. for landscaping, Hinck Electrical Contractors for electrical and Sea Crest Development Corp. for trucking.
Crews are using a Komatsu PC238 excavator, a PC490 excavator, a WA380-8 wheel loader, a WA470-8 wheel loader, a D51-PX crawler dozer and a PC200 LC hydraulic excavator. For Caterpillar, they are using a 335F excavator, a 308-07A excavator, an M320F wheeled excavator, a 316F-rubber-tire hydraulic excavator, a D6K2 LGP dozer and a 450F backhoe. And for Liebherr, they are using an LBR18 sheeting rig; for Dynapac, a CA251D roller; and for Hamm, an HD12VV asphalt roller.
"We have a repair shop at our yard in Freeport, N.Y., which is about 40 minutes away," said Lacagnina. "The mechanics can be here within an hour. The major wear and tear is the unknowns of what is in the ground, especially with the steel sheeting drilling. You don't know what rocks, boulders or substances you're going to drive into and with the excavators and other equipment, it is the constant digging — sometimes you'll get cutting edges that will break off. Again, it's all the unknowns in the ground and being careful with utilities and not damaging anything. The key to good maintenance is always having the master mechanics and foremen talking with our operators, making sure the machines are greased everyday. If any lights or errors come up, our foremen and myself are notified right away and we'll have a mechanic on site within the hour or later that day to get the work done."
Scalamandre purchases and rents equipment from H.O. Penn Machinery Sales & Rentals (Caterpillar); JESCO (John Deere rentals); and Komatsu USA (Komatsu rentals).
"We rent specialty equipment as required from local vendors" said Lacagnina. "It's just a question of being friendly and letting them know what we need. They give us the trials on all of the machines to see if we like them and they are acceptable for what we are doing. We have good relationships with all the rental companies on Long Island. Whatever we need and when we need it, they get it for us."
Safety is a top concern and every Friday the company's safety director gives a weekly tool box talk to discuss safety issues.
"The management team and the guys in the field are like a big family," said Lacagnina. "A bunch of brothers and sisters working together and getting the job done." CEG
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