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Completing A Bridge To The Future 

Traffic flows smoothly Friday morning at the reconstructed Exit 40 Interchange in Melville. There, state officials including DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters, above, announced a $60-million overhaul, including a new bridge and additional lanes, was substantially complete.

Nearly 18 months after the 65-year-old bridge spanning the Northern State Parkway at exit 40 in Melville was torn down, a major project to improve traffic flow along Route 110 is just about finished, state officials announced Nov. 13.

As part of the New York Route 110-Northern State Parkway Interchange project, workers replaced the Northern State Parkway bridge over Route 110, reconfigured all of its ramps, installed new sidewalks along each side of Route 110 and added a travel lane on Route 110 in each direction with hopes of making it easier to traverse for 120,000 daily motorists and pedestrians on foot.

“This award-winning project has transformed a major interchange, relieved a traffic bottleneck and created an efficient, state-of-the-art highway complex that serves one of Long Island’s largest and most vital business districts,” DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement last week.

The ubiquitous orange traffic cones should be off the road within the week and “punchlist” improvement items, many of them aesthetic, will be completed as needed in the coming weeks and months, said DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters.

Completion of the Exit 40 interchange overhaul is a major step toward completing a three-part, $100-million-plus overhaul of Route 110, but construction-weary residents aren’t entirely in the clear just yet. Ongoing work between the LIE and Arlington Road and between Fletcher Place and Amityville Roads is expected to conclude by the end of 2014, state officials said. That work and the Exit 40 revamp will complement a Route 110-LIE Bridge reconstruction project that was completed in 2011.

While the bridge overhaul may have made the biggest visual impact, Peters said more discreet improvements are yielding big benefits, too. New drainage systems, continuous sidewalks for pedestrians and shoulders for bicyclists, new crosswalks and pedestrian signals with countdown timers were all incorporated, as well as aesthetic improvements like reused granite from the former Robert Moses-era Route 110 bridge and new plantings.

The biggest traffic-flow improvement, Peters said, may come as a result of fixing a once precarious right-hand turn near Walt Whitman Road from northbound Route 110.

A “slip-ramp” on southbound Route 110, which feeds motorists onto Walt Whitman Road, has not only made it easier for drivers to turn right from 110 onto Old Country and Sweet Hollow Roads, but has cleared up a major traffic bottleneck that would frequently gobble up the right lane on Route 110 near the Old Country Road intersection. Right turns are no longer permitted from Route 110, and it also helps alleviate rush-hour “bottlenecks” when motorists trying to beat the light and make it onto northbound Route 110 get stuck in the intersection.

“That is totally resolved now. This separates the traffic, and there is plenty of queue if there is a lot of traffic,” Peters said.

Peters said the $60-million project, which is the largest in five years on Long Island, has the future years of the Route 110 corridor in mind.

“This isn’t just for today – it’s for decades to come. And it will accommodate the growth,” Peters said.

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