Gov. suspends roadwork on five Queens highways

By Kathianne Boniello

Gov. George Pataki temporarily suspended at least five major roadwork projects in Queens Monday to give emergency vehicles easy and unfettered access to the site of the World Trade Center attack.

A massive effort to clean up some 200,000 tons of debris has been underway since Sept. 11, when the Twin Towers were demolished.

Work affected by the executive order includes the Long Island Expressway/Cross Island Parkway project, a plan to replace entrance and exit ramps between the LIE and the Clearview Expressway, roadwork along College Point Boulevard, construction on the Van Wyck Expressway and a massive project on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said Monday.

“It is critical that we take necessary steps to expedite rescue and recovery efforts,” Pataki said in a news release. “Under these extraordinary circumstances, it makes sense to temporarily suspend these specific laws to ensure that crucial resources are made available to those who need them.”

The executive order was made retroactive to Sept. 11, the day the Twin Towers were hit.

State DOT spokesman Michael Fleischer said the temporary stoppage would be reviewed frequently to see if it was still needed.

“We’ll be evaluating which projects, if any, can go forward so far without damaging the movement of supplies and goods,” Fleischer said. “We’ll be reviewing it over the next few days.”

Some residents in northeast Queens had expressed concerns about too much road construction concentrated in one area when projects at both the Cross Island Parkway and the Clearview Expressway along the Long Island Expressway began earlier this year. The Cross Island and the Clearview are about two miles apart.

Construction along the Van Wyck Expressway has been the direct result of the AirTrain project, a plan to introduce a light-rail system to take travelers from the Jamaica LIRR station to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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