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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sandy tears up Branch Boulevard
Roadway to be repaired by Christmas
By Ann E. Friedman
Courtesy Teri Schure
Tidal surges caused by Sandy pulled fish out of their natural habitat and landed them on Branch Boulevard.

Residents, like Teri Schure of North Woodmere, have been cut off from a valuable thoroughfare into the Five Towns as a tidal surge from Hurricane Sandy washed away part of Branch Boulevard that spans from Hungry Harbor Road to Peninsula Boulevard in Cedarhurst.

Schure said since the Oct. 29 storm, she and other nearby residents have to use a round about route to get to Cedarhurst and other Five Towns neighborhoods by going east to Mill Road and coming back around Peninsula Boulevard. “Mill Road is now seeing significantly more traffic since it is the only realistic alternative to Branch Boulevard from our neighborhood, so traffic is now often much slower on that road,” she said.

According to Nassau County Public Works spokesman Mike Martino, the tidal surge washed away the roadbed south of the gutter across Branch Boulevard, causing a part of the road to collapse, while a section of the sidewalk and parking lot also eroded.

Repair work to Branch Boulevard is pending until the necessary permits are obtained, Martino added. “The county will reconstruct the washed out section of Branch Boulevard and embankment of Cedar Point Lake by stabilizing the area with erosion control fabric as well as reconstructing the damaged sidewalk, parking lot and guide rail,” he said. “All work is scheduled to be completed before Christmas.”

David Welcher, a 12-year Branch Boulevard resident, said he could get to his home, which still has no heat or hot water, from Peninsula Boulevard but not from Hungry Harbor Road. “It’s a massive job and the damage from the water is horrendous,” he said. “I think considering that it’s a main connecting artery to the Five Towns, it should be prioritized. I don’t envision that it will take five or six weeks for such a small thing.”

Until Branch Boulevard is repaired, Welcher said his commute to the Five Towns would be more difficult. “It takes longer than usual,” he said.

As the executive director of the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District, Schure is concerned that the lack of access to Branch Boulevard will result in loss of business to stores in Cedarhurst. “The reduced access may discourage some shoppers from coming into our business district,” she said.

Though the roadway is currently closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic, Martino said Branch Boulevard is scheduled to open with one lane in each direction by Nov. 30.

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