Ocean Parkway
Ocean Parkway before Sandy.

A five-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway reopened Thursday, just shy of the six-month anniversary of Sandy, which washed out miles of its protective dunes, causing chunks of the road to crumble.

The eastbound lanes of the parkway had been detoured onto the westbound side—both of which were reduced to one lane between Tobay and Cedar beaches since late November, when reconstruction began a month after the Oct. 29 superstorm.

“The reopening of Ocean Parkway is a milestone on the road to back to normalcy after Superstorm Sandy, and because of the way we wrote the Sandy relief bill, it was accomplished in record time and at full federal funding,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said.  “I will continue to fight for the resources to make this iconic road stronger and better protected, so that when we face the next major storm, this road isn’t washed away.”

The $33-million job was completed just in time to meet a deadline that ensured full reimbursement from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program—a month before Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer beach and tourist season on Long Island.

The 16-mile parkway connects Jones Beach State Park with Meadowbrook and Wantagh State parkways to the west and Robert Moses Causeway and Captree State Park at its east end as well as a string of town beaches and seaside communities in between.

The eastbound lanes of Ocean Parkway between Wantagh and Meadowbrook are still closed while construction crews are repairing a Sandy-damaged Jones Beach pedestrian tunnel.

On the larger project, crews had worked around the clock dredging 800,000 cubic square yards of sand from the Fire Island Inlet, pumping it onto the eastern end of Jones Beach Island and trucking it down to the Gilgo Beach area to rebuild the dunes where the damage was worst.

Orient Beach State Park on the eastern tip of the North Fork is scheduled to reopen Saturday. Robert Moses State Park, which had its traffic circle undermined by the storm surge, is slated to reopen by Memorial Day.

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.