OAKDALE

Study on Oakdale Merge gives hope for traffic relief

Nicole Fuentes
Posted 4/30/20

The New York State Department of Transportation released their feasibility study on the Oakdale Merge on Sunrise Highway, which runs from Heckscher State Parkway to Oakdale Bohemia Road in Islip …

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OAKDALE

Study on Oakdale Merge gives hope for traffic relief

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The New York State Department of Transportation released their feasibility study on the Oakdale Merge on Sunrise Highway, which runs from Heckscher State Parkway to Oakdale Bohemia Road in Islip Town.

The study was prepared to identify and establish solutions to address the needs of the high-traffic area with future projects expected to involve state and federal funding. The study, according to the NYS DOT, found solutions to mitigate the traffic concerns.

“The New York State Department of Transportation’s 2019 Oakdale Merge study presented options to ease congestion and enhance safety,” said a NYS Department of Transportation spokesperson. “The department is in the process of implementing short-term operational enhancements along the corridor, including drainage improvements, pavement renewal and emergency service access as we continue to further assess identified alternatives.”

THE PROBLEM

In addition to traffic concerns, the roadway also features unclear signage and pavement markings. Approximately 126,000 vehicles per day travel through the merge; over 600 accidents have occurred there between 2015 and 2018.

West of the Oakdale Merge, the Heckscher State Parkway parallels NY 27 and the two roadways have 16 lanes of traffic (six for Heckscher State Parkway, six for NY 27 mainline, and four for NY 27 service roads). This number is then reduced to a total of 10 lanes east of the Heckscher State Parkway Interchange, but before reaching the Oakdale Merge. Within the merge, the number of lanes is reduced even further to six lanes, then returns to 10 lanes east of the merge. The merge area, according to NYS DOT, is approx- imately 1.4 miles long.

WHAT’S BEING CONSIDERED?

According to the study, the NYS DOT is considering an at-grade widening concepts as well as a grade separated viaduct, bridge and tunnel concepts. The concepts would provide both oper- ational and safety improvements.

At-grade concepts would be built at the same level of the existing roadway, but would add capacity to the six-lane Oakdale Merge area between Wheeler Road and Pond Road by use of either reversible lanes or added lanes. All of the at-grade concepts vary in the number of added lanes (none, one, two or four); standard or nonstandard shoulders, and configuration with or without service roads.

The DOT also prepared concepts that extend beyond the Heckscher Parkway Interchange. However, according to the study, as a result, there may be potential impacts to the adjoining park and wetland areas.

VIADUCT, BRIDGE AND TUNNEL CONCEPTS

These concepts extend to Connetquot Avenue to Pond Road with added lanes and increased capacity with a roadway above or below the level of the existing six-lane highway.

Bridge concepts would replace the existing culvert at West Brook Pond with a new bridge.

Possible improvements have been identified that could be applied to each of the concepts noted above. They include raising the roadway grade at Lower Pond by several feet to reduce the risk of flooding during future major storm events; adding ramp metering and intelligent transportation systems to facilitate traffic flow; lengthening and widening existing highway entrance and exit lanes for improved safety and traffic operations.

WHAT’S BEING DONE?
Each of the concepts were screened to determine the effectiveness in improving safety and improving traffic operations. Based on the findings and public input received during the public information meeting held on Nov. 28, 2018, at-grade, viaduct, and bridge concepts were rec- ommended for further analysis. Permits will also be required to move forward.
ESTIMATED COST

The estimated preliminary construction costs vary depending on the con- cept. A range of potential costs include $25-$250 million for at-grade widening, $250-$700 million for bridge and viaduct concepts and $2-$58 billion for a tunnel.

PUBLIC INPUT

According to the NYS DOT, more meetings with will be held, should a project advance. A public information meeting at the Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School was held on Nov. 28, 2018 with a 30-day comment period.

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