East Rockaway Road in Hewlett, torn up for National Grid work, leaves motorists fuming

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For over five months, motorists who use East Rockaway Road — which stretches from Broadway, in Hewlett, to Waverly Avenue, where the roadway morphs into Main Street, in the village of East Rockaway — have had anything but a smooth drive.

The stretch of East Rockaway Road between Schencks Lane and Auerbach Avenue in Hewlett, two streets that lead into the village of Hewlett Harbor, is in poor condition. Hewlett Harbor’s mayor, Mark Weiss, strongly expressed his disappointment with the condition of the road, the result of work done by National Grid.

“The work started back in November and finished up in the beginning of January,” Weiss said. “No crew has since been back to patch the road up, and that’s a problem. I was talking with a resident who complained to me about the road, and I said that [it] looks like it belongs in a third-world country. He said to me that he recently went away on business to a third-world country, and the roads there were in better shape than East Rockaway Road currently is.”

With motorists avoiding the road because of its condition, Weiss said, traffic through the village has increased to unacceptable levels. Along with passenger vehicles, many commercial trucks ramble up and down East Rockaway Road.

“Cars are coming from different areas in the Five Towns and are cutting through Hewlett Harbor rather than trying to drive on East Rockaway Road,” Weiss said. “It’s making the traffic worse in our village, and it doesn’t help that our streets are narrow and not meant to carry a lot of cars.”

“For about the last three to four years, the roads such as Union Avenue, off East Rockaway Road in Hewlett, and Mill Road, also in Hewlett, have also been in bad shape,” said Saud Ansari, a Hewlett Harbor resident for nearly 25 years. “It’s unfair that our taxes keep going up and our roads keep getting worse.”

Dominick Valenti, owner of Phil’s Body Works in Hewlett, lives on Huckleberry Lane in Hewlett Harbor, off East Rockaway Road. “In the past six months or so, we’ve had an increase in people coming to the shop because of blown tires,” Valenti said. “I drive my Suburban down East Rockaway multiple times every day, and the road has done a number on my vehicle” — especially its tires.

On March 27, Weiss wrote a letter to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, detailing the problem. “While it was never acceptable by any standards, the road conditions have further deteriorated over the past few weeks given the heavy rains and the subfreezing temperatures,” he wrote. “Certainly, even if the patches were meant to be temporary while the contractor waited to repave the road during the spring, National Grid should have made an arrangement for their outside contractor to check the condition of East Rockaway Road periodically to assure that travel would not be so treacherous.”

Mary Studdert, the spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Works, outlined the construction plan for East Rockaway Road, adding that National Grid was planning to start work on Monday and complete it by Wednesday. As the Herald went to press on Tuesday, the work was in progress.

“National Grid has been working on a gas main replacement project on East Rockaway Road for the past few months after obtaining a road opening permit from Nassau County,” Studdert explained in an email. “As part of the permit, National Grid is responsible for restoring the roadway to ensure it is safe and drivable. As the work was completed over the winter months, [National] Grid has placed temporary pavement down since we require the temperature to be at least 45 degrees and rising for the permanent asphalt work to be completed.”

Studdert added that the county planned to fully resurface East Rockaway Road in the spring of 2020, from Broadway to Waverly Avenue. The project is in the design phase, she said.

National Grid did not return a call requesting comment by press time.

Have an opinion on roadway conditions in the Five Towns? Send your letter to the

editor to jbessen@liherald.com.