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Jul 13, 2017 12:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Ready To Spend $1 Million To Raise Part Of Dune Road

Southampton town plans to elevate portions of Dune Road this year.   PRESS FILE
Jul 25, 2017 10:22 AM

Tapping unspent bonds that were secured for a much larger elevation project, Southampton Town officials instead will spend $1 million to raise the most flood-prone sections of Dune Road in Hampton Bays and East Quogue later this summer.

Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said at a Town Board work session on Thursday, July 13, that attempts to secure federal funding for a plan to raise the entire seven-mile stretch of road from the Shinnecock Inlet to Quogue Village’s western border by nearly 2 feet had hit an insurmountable roadblock. His department instead will use the unspent 2016 highway bonds to raise certain sections of the oceanfront roadway.

Specifically, Mr. Gregor told Town Board members that his crews intend to raise the lowest sections of Dune Road, a roughly 2.5-mile stretch that runs from Road K—known as Surfer Beach—in Hampton Bays to just west of Dolphin Lane in East Quogue. He added they will be targeting the sections of asphalt that are less than 2 feet above sea level, and noted that as much as 6 inches of fresh asphalt could be laid on top of the existing road in some areas as a simple way to raise the roadway.

“We think it would make a substantial improvement,” Mr. Gregor said about the $1 million fix, though he pointed out that the work will not be a “superstorm fix,” meaning sections could still flood during severe storms.

Town officials had been trying for several years to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to include the larger project, which was expected to cost nearly $7 million, included in the draft 400-page Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, commonly referred to as FIMP. The requested funding, however, was never added—and even if it had been, construction likely would not begin until 2021.

Army Corps representatives did not immediately return calls this week.

The work pitched by Mr. Gregor will tap Highway Department bonds secured last year, which Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman explained were borrowed in a previous attempt to leverage grant opportunities to raise the entirety of Dune Road by roughly 20 inches.

At last week’s meeting, Mr. Gregor explained that many sections of Dune Road are actually below grade, resulting in the trapping of ocean water and runoff on the asphalt. He said a new layer of asphalt could be laid that both raises the road and ensures that water drains off and away from the asphalt, cutting down on flooding.

Town Board members said they support Mr. Gregor’s solution and Mr. Schneiderman scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, July 20, during which they are expected to approve the funding transfer.

“Six inches will make a big difference,” Mr. Schneiderman said after last week’s discussion with Mr. Gregor. “It really has the potential to eliminate routine flooding.”

If the money is allocated, Mr. Gregor said his department could start work as soon as August.

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, who represents the East End, said this week that he is still pushing to secure federal funding for the larger-scale raising of Dune Road, while noting that there are federal grants that town officials should also be applying for on their own.

Specifically, he pointed to some $1.5 billion in federal transportation money recently made available through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program. In an email sent on Monday, Mr. Zeldin said if town officials want to apply for any of that funding, he would support their application.

“I know all too well from personal experience just how much this poses a serious safety concern to our community, as Dune Road is the only emergency evacuation route for some and is used by so many for their travels,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, all levels of government must work together to get this done for the benefit of residents and businesses relying on Dune Road.”

He added that he is working with the Army Corps to see if Dune Road could be classified as a “temporary haul road,” qualifying it for federal funds once work actually begins on the long-awaited FIMP.

The supervisor said this week that the town would continue to seek federal funds even as it works to raise sections of Dune Road on its own.

“We can certainly apply if directed to do that, if he thinks we have a decent shot,” Mr. Schneiderman said on Monday, referring to Mr. Zeldin. “We’ll continue to pursue the larger project. Meanwhile, we have a problem now.”

Last summer, the supervisor thought he had secured $3 million for the road raising through Suffolk County's Community Development Block Grant program. The funding was pulled, however, after Mr. Gregor objected to the town using the funding, as it was specifically supposed to be spent in low- and middle-income neighborhoods. Hampton Bays and East Quogue met the qualifications, but Mr. Gregor objected to using those funds for work on an oceanfront road, near some of the communities’ highest-value properties.

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Is this a temporary fix to a section or permanent fix? Years ago the village raised the road with great results.
Standing water will be a problem that will be created. Hope it will be done right the first time...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jul 13, 17 1:55 PM
Note likely -- it's Dune Road, damnit! It's built on sand, and water erodes sand.

Good money after bad!

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 13, 17 3:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Frank- What makes Dune Road any different from Meadow lane? Once one and the same Known as Beach Road. Meadow Lane does not flood.
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Jul 14, 17 1:27 AM
Drain the roads Dump gregor!!!!!
By Dumpgregor (12), Hampton Bays on Jul 13, 17 4:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
Lets take it!! Better than nothing. This is a heavily traveled pedestrian traveled road for bikers, runners, and cars enjoying the end east. An investment in the east end future!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 13, 17 8:25 PM
Lets stop trying to control or "over power" mother nature. Look at all the areas flooded out by Superstorm Sandy. Those people should not have been allowed to rebuild there. Stop wasting tax payer money to "protect" people who live in areas that are inevitably going to be "returned" to the sea.
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Jul 13, 17 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
You don't have to live in the area to use the road, I use it only when it's low tide and it saves time rather than taking Montauk Highway or 27. Not everything they do is only for the super rich people. They should fix it and fix it right!
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Jul 14, 17 10:24 AM
I hadn't thought about using it as a alternative to 27. I forgot you can do that in Hampton Bays. Isn't the Southampton area a dead end though?
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Jul 14, 17 12:37 PM
Use it to go from Ponquoge Bridge to WHB. Dead-end is near Oakland's - nice restaurant and place to go for a drink!
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Jul 14, 17 2:54 PM
If you let the road sink into the sea yes it will only be used by the rich people to get to their homes. Building it up will keep it for us common folk to use as a running or bike path or even a nice drive on a beautiful afternoon. By your logic most of the south shore of LI from Montauk to Miami should be abandoned.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 15, 17 6:57 AM
If you havn't noticed Dune Road is used more by Town Residents than the people that live there.
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Jul 16, 17 1:03 AM

"[A]ttempts to secure federal funding to raise the entire seven mile stretch of road spanning from the Shinnecock Inlet to Quogue Village’s western border by nearly 2 feet has hit an insurmountable roadblock ... "

- - - in the person of The (Indifferent) Honorable Lee Zeldin.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 14, 17 1:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
The cost of imprisoning one felonious illegal alien, like the one who was recently convicted of assaulting the young woman in her Southampton Village home would actually more than cover the cost of this road.

Perhaps you should consider where limited resources should be spent before advocating your pro-illegal, pro-open borders stance.
By NateNewtown (99), east on Jul 14, 17 12:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Where was the 3 million developement grant money spent ?.Again I ask the relevant Dept to take a look at Corwin Lane HB and daily overwash from the bay
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Jul 14, 17 12:44 PM
What happens at the EQ and Quogue border? Will the road dip back down into Quogue and will more water flood Quogue? I don't care, just wondering
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 18, 17 10:22 PM
Way to go, Lee!

Thanks to The Honorable Lee, Montauk residents will receive no more than a TENTH of the sand that they requested from the Army Corps for the renourishment of their critically eroded beaches (and they MAY receive NONE AT ALL.)

Likewise, due to Congressman Zeldin's tireless efforts, Hampton Bays, East Quogue, Quogue, and Westhampton Beach residents will receive NO HELP WHATSOEVER in raising Dune Rd.

- - - and, finally, it was announced yesterday that President ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 19, 17 12:55 AM