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Aug 21, 2012 5:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Almost Ready To Sign Off On Dune Road Work

Aug 21, 2012 6:35 PM

A long discussed plan to raise Dune Road in Hampton Bays and East Quogue, a section that is prone to flooding at high tide and mostly submerged during storms, is close to receiving state approval, Southampton Town officials have confirmed.

At Friday’s Town Board work session, Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor announced that an application for a permit to complete the work filed with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is under final review, and he expects approval by the end of the year. That final approval, he said, will officially make the project “shovel ready,” a significant step in securing funding for the estimated $7 million project.

“The Dune Road project has been something that the town has been pursuing, off and on, for a number of years,” Mr. Gregor said this week. “Last year, the highway department started doing consulting work with their consultant, McLean Associates, to get a permit.”

According to Mr. Gregor, over the summer, the DEC asked the highway department to clarify certain aspects of the project, such as how nearby wetlands will be maintained during construction, and he thinks the permit is now in the final reviewing stage. The next step, Mr. Gregor said, is to find and, more important, secure, funding for the job, an aspect that he admits could take a very long time. It is expected that a mix of federal, county and town funding will be needed to complete the job.

On Friday, Mr. Gregor said he is continuing to search for funding sources and has recently applied for federal programs. He added that, if he is able to secure federal money, the town must be ready to pitch in its share. He noted that plans for the work are almost finished.

The project, which would be carried out in three stages, calls for a 5-mile stretch of Dune Road to be raised approximately 20 inches to reach a 4-foot elevation above sea level. The first stage calls for raising the stretch of road between Neptunes and the Quogue Village border; the second phase would focus on the stretch of road between the Shinnecock Inlet and Ponquogue Bridge; and the final stage would focus on the area between the bridge and the oceanfront bar.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said Tuesday she is pleased that the project is shovel ready, noting that the town has missed out on some funding opportunities because the project still needed final state approval. She noted that she and Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi recently met with State Senator Charles Schumer in hopes of securing federal funding for the work.

“It is a project that we definitely need to see move forward, but it is an expensive project and it is not a town road,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “It is a county road that is town-maintained. For projects like this, we do tend to rely on our federal, state or county counterparts for some help and that is what we are angling for in this case as well.”

Mr. Gregor said he is happy that the state is ready to sign off on the permits, noting that the work is needed to ensure the safety of those driving on Dune Road.

“This is to help people get out of there if they need to,” Mr. Gregor said this week. “This is so emergency vehicles can get to houses and businesses if they need to. This is for people to evacuate if there is a hurricane. This is not a vanity project for rich homeowners.”

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