A bigger, better Route 58 — right on time for summer

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is joined last Thursday in Riverhead by Town Board members and other elected leaders to announce the near completion of the Route 58 widening project.

The widening of Route 58 will be completed by next Thursday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced in Riverhead last week.

“This has been a long time coming,” Mr. Levy said of the job, which began after last Labor Day and is now undergoing some finishing work, including striping and paving.

The actual expansion of the busy thoroughfare into five lanes finished Friday, Mr. Levy said outside the Hilton Garden Inn on Route 58. “For many years, there was a great deal of gridlock on this road because of the bottlenecks,” he said. “It would go from two lanes into one lane back into two lanes, back into one lane, into a traffic circle. The result was a major traffic mess.

“The project, which cost $8 million, is on time and on budget, and those are sweet words to hear when you are in government.”

“We’ve been talking about widening Route 58 for 20 years,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Every time, he said, the issue of whether to replace the Roanoke Avenue traffic circle with a traffic light came up and would bog down the project.

The traffic circle remained, but is now a two-lane roundabout.

The Route 58 project was originally a much larger plan that was expected to cost about $70 million and would have needed federal funds. That project, which officials later agreed was not likely to receive so much federal money, was more expensive because it called for wider lanes, which required the acquisition of additional property.

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