If your commute on Sunrise Highway has been interrupted by construction, there’s good news: It’s almost finished.
Construction crews are in the final stages of installing over 10 miles of pipe systems along Sunrise to connect two water-treatment facilities. The project, called Bay Park Conveyance, began in the summer of 2021, with the goal of eliminating excessive nitrogen pollution in Nassau County’s Western Bays. The construction is now 77 percent completed, according to the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
“The construction crews have been working on that the last few weeks,” Andrew Fera, the project director from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said of the final phase of construction along Sunrise Highway. “We certainly hope that we can get this complete by the end of November.”
For years, the South Shore Water Reclamation Facility, in East Rockaway — formerly known as the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant — has been pumping 50 million gallons of treated sewage per day into the Western Bays. The resulting nitrogen pollution causes an overgrowth of algae and an increase in harmful toxins and bacteria, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The underground pipes will reroute the effluent from the East Rockaway facility to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, where it will be pumped out into the Atlantic. Fera detailed the rerouting in a digital presentation on Oct. 26 by the planning council, the DEC and the Nassau County Department of Public Works, which are partners in the project.
Communities near the Western Bays will see better water quality and a revitalized shellfish habitat thanks to the project, Fera said. The reduced nitrogen will also help restore marshland, which plays a key role in protecting the South Shore from flooding during storms.
In the meantime, however, residents who live near the construction have had to endure loud noise, bright lights and strong vibrations during the night as crews have worked on the project from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“We did all we could to reduce the noise impacts and let everyone know what to expect for those couple of weeks when we’re in that neighborhood,” Fera said. “We did our best to be the least impactful we could, albeit with a major civil construction project.”
“Unfortunately, there are things that are tough to mitigate,” he added.
The construction has necessitated traffic diversions along Sunrise that have irked some commuters. As well, steel sheets have temporarily replaced sections of the road, which drivers and nearby residents have complained made traffic excessively noisy. As construction comes to an end, these measures are slowly being phased out, and crews are now working on restoring the asphalt.
If good weather continues and no unforeseen problems arise, all tunneling construction on the highway is expected to be finished by November, and all asphalt repairs finished by the end of December. If the Bay Park Conveyance remains on its current timeline, the project team will be able to turn the effluent-pumping system on next June, for a testing phase to evaluate how well it functions in extreme weather events.
The project’s Community Information Center is at 265 Sunrise Highway in Rockville Centre. Those interested in scheduling an appointment can contact BayParkConveyance@gmail.com, or the 24/7 Project Hotline (516) 252-6121.