National Grid crews at work Wednesday on Roanoke Avenue, which will soon be undergoing an extensive renovation project. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A major road work project is about to get underway in downtown Riverhead as the county public works department begins a $3.6 million improvement project on Roanoke Avenue between Route 58 and Main Street, according to Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski. That stretch of the highly trafficked two-lane roadway is a county road and badly in need of repairs and drainage improvements, he said.

Two-way traffic and access to adjacent properties will be maintained at all times throughout the project, Suffolk DPW chief engineer William Hillman wrote in a letter to property owners last week.

The county is asking all residents and businesses along Roanoke Avenue south of the circle to remove all landscaping and other items within the existing roadway and the highway boundary. The highway boundary will be marked by construction crews and all plants, shrubs, fences, sprinklers, stones, signs and other items within the highway boundary must be removed. Items remaining within the highway boundary area will be removed and discarded and will not be replaced.

Utility companies will begin relocating their facilities within the next several weeks, Hillman said.

Any property owner planning to connect to utilities in the roadway — such as water, sewer, gas or electric service — should contact the utility now to make sure installation is completed as soon as possible, Hillman said. “The county WILL NOT allow any pavement disturbance for five years after completion of the roadway reconstruction,” he wrote.

Parking restrictions will be posted the night before they will be enforced, Hillman said.

The project is currently scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2016, Hillman said.

The work consists of the installation of drainage structures and concrete pipe; removing and replacing existing curb and sidewalk; traffic signal modifications and the resurfacing of asphalt pavement with installation of pavement markings and signs.

The new drainage structures will include permeable concrete gutters and new leaching basins that will reduce stormwater discharge into Merritts Pond by 50 percent. All stormwater discharge from Roanoke Avenue into Merritts Pond, except during very heavy rain events, will pass through a new stormwater treatment system designed to screen, separate and trap debris, sediment and oil.

Currently, stormwater from drainage systems along Roanaoke Avenue is “mainlined” directly into Merritts Pond, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski told RiverheadLOCAL last year.

“So environmentally it’s a big plus,” Krupski said. Old drainage systems were designed to get the water off the roads, usually directly into surface waters, without regard for the environmental impacts, he said.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.