A resurfacing project originally planned for this year to address potholes and other problems that have plagued the stretch of Route 27 between Southampton and East Hampton will not go out for bids until the summer of 2012 and is not likely to be finished until the summer of 2013, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Transportation said last week.
Furthermore, despite a common sentiment that the worst problem areas are in Water Mill, Bridgehampton, and Wainscott, the complete resurfacing project, as described by Eileen Peters, regional spokeswoman for the State D.O.T., will include only a limited section of the road between its intersection with Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton and with Buell Lane in the heart of East Hampton Village.
Last fall, drivers witnessed spot repairs — a process Ms. Peters said was unusual for the D.O.T. — to address some of the most egregious problems. But a complete resurfacing, which includes removing the top layer of deteriorated asphalt and replacing it, has been long awaited, and these new delays — and the narrow scope of the project when it does begin — are likely to inflame local passions on the issue.
The funding for the project, according to Ms. Peters, totals around $3 million, and the budgeting process appears to be on schedule — for an initial bidding process in 2012, that is.
East Hampton Town Highway Superintendant Scott King said over the phone on Monday that he was disappointed, but not surprised. “I wish they’d just push it [the resurfacing] at least up past Townline BBQ” in Sagaponack Mr. King said, pointing out that resurfacing was also necessary as far east as the intersection of Old and New Montauk Highway at the east end of the Napeague stretch.
Mr. King described an awkward bureaucracy, one that had refused his offers of equipment in the past and was failing to address monster potholes with anything more than Band-aids.
State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said Monday that he was frustrated with the scope of the project, but vowed to try and move up its start time as well as expand its reach to include problem areas in Bridgehampton and Wainscott. At the least, he said, he hopes the state will do additional spot resurfacing to address some of the worst potholes before he summer season.
“We’re looking to short-term resurfacing this spring, but the big goal here is to expand this project. The roads are just as bad if not worse” than they were before the recent spot resurfacing in November, he said.
The poor road conditions are not just a public safety issue, but an economic one, Mr. Thiele said. “A tourist-based economy depends on people being able to get out here.”
Route 27 is a state road, and state budget woes in Albany may limit funds for these kinds of infrastructure projects.
Ms. Peters said the D.O.T. is willing to address problem areas when residents point them out, and insisted she and her colleagues are aware of those problem areas on the South Fork, though she also suggested some of the recent consternation was likely due to last year’s repairs having left some patches of highway in great shape and others looking worse by comparison.