GOVERNOR PATAKI AND MAYOR GIULIANI ANNOUNCE
LONG ISLAND EXPRESSWAY PLAN
ALLEY POND PARK AND MOTORIST SAFETY
Senator Padavan Lauds DOT Improvement Plan
Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today
announced an agreement on plans to improve the Long Island Expressway (LlE)
in eastern Queens from the Cross Island Parkway (CIP) Interchange to the Nassau
County border, as well on planned improvements to Alley Pond Park.
"This plan will reduce congestion and improve safety for
motorists who rely on the Long Island Expressway in Queens and Nassau County,
while also making dramatic improvements to Alley Pond Park for the local community,"
Governor Pataki said. "I congratulate Senator Padavan for his leadership
in bringing this issue to a winning
resolution for all involved."
Governor Pataki and Senator Frank Padavan first unveiled the
basis for the new LIE reconstruction plan in May 1998. It was then developed
by the State Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York City Parks
and Recreation Natural Resources Group (NRG), and reviewed by numerous public
officials, as well as by community and environmental groups.
"This plan succeeds in creating a safer roadway for motorists,
while improving a local park for community residents," said Mayor Giuliani.
"The improvements at the intersection between the Cross Island Parkway
and the Long Island Expressway will ease traffic on local streets. In addition,
a full environmental restoration of Alley Pond and the surrounding trails
will greatly improve the appearance and usability of the Park for the surrounding
While the plan complements the LIE/HOV Capacity Improvement
Project in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the new LIE/HOV lanes will not be
extended into Queens, and the existing buffer between the LIE roadway and
the local communities will remain largely unchanged.
New York State and New York City recently reached accord on
this LIE project design and the City has withdrawn its appeal of the July
1997 Supreme Court ruling which held that the State DOT had not followed the
State Environmental Quality Review Act.
"The Governor directed DOT to find a better way to accomplish
this important project, and we have done just that," said DOT Commissioner
Joseph Boardman. "DOT has identified safe and efficient methods that
will reduce the impact on the adjacent residential communities, handle the
high volume of traffic in the area, substantially enhance the natural features
of Alley Pond Park, and significantly reduce construction time in the area.
This is a win-win solution."
Alley Pond Park is a 654-acre, rustic and secluded natural area
that was acquired by New York City in 1929. Since 1976, the New York City
Department of Parks and Recreation and the Alley Pond Environmental Center
have protected and enhanced the Park's flora and fauna, wooded trails, wildlife,
open fields, kettle ponds, salt marshes and recreational areas that make up
one of the most rural landscapes in Queens.
"This will be among the greenest highway interchanges in
New York State," said Henry Stern, Commissioner of the New York City
Department of Parks and Recreation. "What began as a threat to the trees
of Queens has ended as an enormous enhancement to the pond, the forest, and
Highlights of the LIE reconstruction plan include:
- The buffer between the LIE and local neighborhoods will be maintained,
since existing LIE shoulder areas will be converted to entrance/exit/breakdown
lanes. These extra travel lanes and other LIE improvements will help keep
LIE traffic on the Expressway and off of adjacent service roads and local
- The LIE/CIP interchange will be reconstructed almost entirely within
the "thumb print" of the existing interchange, with two new
ramps to provide safer and more efficient traffic flow (one from southbound
CIP directly to eastbound LIE, and one from westbound LIE directly to
- Twelve acres of Alley Pond Park will be restored and/or reintegrated
via the elimination of the two existing highway loop ramps, constructed
forty years ago, which separated the park into segments.
- The sediment-filled Alley Pond located, within the southeast quadrant
of the LIE/CIP Interchange, will be reconstructed according to a design
by NRG, and restored to an open water body that includes native emergent
marsh and bio-remediation plantings. Reconfigured interpretive trails,
including a scenic overlook, will be provided to improve access to the
restored Alley Pond.
- Extensive environmental mitigation work will be performed on Alley
Pond Park, including new landscape plantings and reforestation with native
species that will enhance the existing vegetation. A landscaped earth
berm will be fashioned in the southeast quadrant to help screen the park
area from the LIE. To eliminate the substantial current drainage and erosion
problems, improvements will be provided at a number of locations including
areas along the Tulip Tree Trail and Alley Pond south of West Alley Road.
Two detention ponds will be created within the northeast quadrant of the
LIE/CIP Interchange to improve the quality of storm runoff to Alley Creek.
These ponds will be vegetated with bio-remediation wetland plantings capable
of removing pollutants from the storm runoff. Oil separator drainage structures will also help remove pollutants.
- Traffic will be reduced on the South Service Road/West Alley Road in
the vicinity of Easthampton Boulevard/223rd Street (southwest quadrant),
because the new ramp being built from the eastbound LIE directly to the
southbound CIP will replace the current indirect ramp connections via
local community streets. The new direct ramp will significantly reduce
traffic volumes and improve traffic operations on local roads in this
- An interpretive recreational trail/path system will be reconstructed
and/or restored in Alley Pond Park, which will include the construction
of aesthetically treated pedestrian bridges that will separate the trail
network from active ramp traffic.
- Pedestrian safety will be significantly improved, since all existing
at-grade trail/path crossings of active interchange ramps will be removed.
In addition, four new pedestrian underpasses will be built, and the current
Cloverdale Boulevard pedestrian bridge over the LIE will be reconstructed.
- Aesthetically treated sound barriers will be provided where appropriate
and approved by the community. The barriers will be built upon completion
of the new interchange in order to maximize the effectiveness of the noise
mitigation efforts, and as stipulated in the court settlement agreement.
Visual screening in the form of dense vegetation will be offered to adjacent
residents where sound barriers would not be effective or practical, or
as an alternative for those residential communities that do not want sound
In order to minimize the impact of this major reconstruction project on motorists
utilizing the LIE, CIP, adjacent service roads and cross streets, and to reduce
disturbances to nearby residents, businesses and community facilities, the
DOT will implement an extensive Traffic Management Plan that was developed
by DOT in conjunction with affected groups.
Key aspects of the Traffic Management Plan include:
- There will be no daytime lane closures on the LIE and the CIP during
peak travel periods.
- Construction is to be performed during off-peak travel times and predominantly
- To facilitate traffic, as well as speed the construction of the new
bridge, a temporary bridge south of the existing LIE/CIP bridge will be
built to preserve LIE traffic and help maintain the same number of through
traffic lanes during construction. Staged construction of the LIE/CIP
replacement bridge will allow all eight existing LIE travel lanes to remain
open to motorists.
- Financial bonus payments will be provided to the DOT contractor when
the job is completed ahead of schedule -- and financial penalties will
be assessed for working beyond the contractually required completion date(s).
- A motorist information toll-free hotline will provide up-to-date construction
and travel information.
- A community outreach field office will provide residents, public officials,
and community groups with a local contact for information and construction
- Overhead INFORM signs will alert motorists and prepare them for any
lane shifts, closures, speed limit reductions and upcoming construction
Under the Governor's direction, the new LIE plan was developed in conjunction
with - and significantly enhanced by - extensive community coordination and
involvement by the following key representatives:
Senator Frank Padavan, Office
of the Queens Borough President; New York City Departments of Transportation
and Parks; Community Board 11 Transportation Subcommittee; Douglaston Civic
Association; North Hills Civic Association; Beech Hills Corporation; and the
Alley Pond Environmental Center.
The project's construction cost is approximately $112 million
and DOT anticipates that construction will begin during the Summer of 2000.