Town Secures FEMA Grant To Rebuild Ponquogue Bridge In Hampton Bays
Overdue repairs to the old Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays could begin toward the end of summer now that Southampton Town has received final approval—and nearly $5 million in funding—from the federal government.
Christine Fetten, Southampton Town’s director of municipal works, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has earmarked up to $4.74 million for the project, though town officials expect the repairs to run only around $1.65 million.
The additional $3.09 million will give the town some flexibility, she added, if the construction bids come in higher than anticipated. FEMA will reimburse the town only for needed expenses, Ms. Fetten explained, meaning that any unused federal funding would be returned.
Plans for the work call for salvaging and refurbishing both fishing piers that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, without disturbing the marine life in Shinnecock Bay. That storm severely damaged the northern pier, knocking down a section and leaving a section in the bay disconnected from the land. The town originally intended to completely knock down the wooden pier but reversed course after residents began pushing for its restoration, explaining that it is a popular tourist attraction.
To help speed along the process, Ms. Fetten said she enlisted the help of U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, who, on Tuesday, announced the securing of the funding in a press release. The town first applied for the federal funding in 2014.
“I am pleased to announce that this federal funding has been awarded, and repairs of the bridge can now begin,” Mr. Zeldin said in a prepared statement.
Now that the funding and permits are in place, Ms. Fetten said the repairs could start before the end of summer, and possibly as early as August. She also estimates that the work would take about five months to complete.
Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone pointed out that the town could not start any of the work, or even solicit bids, before receiving the green light from FEMA or it would have risked not getting reimbursed for the repairs.
“We’ve been waiting for that final approval for quite some time,” said Mr. Zappone, adding that he is happy to see the project finally moving forward.