A PARKWAY FOR HAMPTON BAYS: In 1938, Robert Moses, chairman of the Long Island State Park Commission, proposed a comprehensive $9.3 million plan to restore Fire Island after a severe hurricane buffeted the barrier beach. Along with an eastern extension of the Ocean Parkway from Fire Island Inlet east to Shinnecock Inlet, the ambitious Fire Island restoration plan called for a new parkway spur - the Ponquogue Parkway - to connect to Montauk Highway (NY 27A-Suffolk CR 80) in Hampton Bays.
The Ponquogue Parkway, which was to be constructed along the current Ponquogue Avenue (Suffolk CR 32), was to consist of a single 22-foot-wide concrete roadway flanked by nine-foot-wide turf shoulders built atop sand fill. The undivided parkway, which was to allow one travel lane in each direction, was to have full control of access at interchanges. Both the concrete pavement and turf shoulders were designed to control erosion. While there is no specific mention, the plan may have replaced the two-lane wooden bridge that existed at the time with a more modern span.
Fears of lower property valuation and the loss of isolation on Fire Island, as well as concerns over the high cost of the proposed project, prompted the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors to vote seven to three against the Moses plan. Instead, county officials approved a less ambitious $1.5 million plan to preserve the dunes on Fire Island.
THE PONQUOGUE BRIDGE: It was not until the early 1980's when the Suffolk County Department of Public Works replaced the old wooden causeway over Shinnecock Bay with a high-level, steel-girder-and-concrete-pile bridge. The new bridge, which carries Suffolk CR 32 from Hampton Bays south to Dune Road (Suffolk CR 89) at Shinnecock County Park, was constructed just west of the old span.
In the years since the new bridge opened, county officials removed the central span of the old bridge to create a fishing and diving pier accessible from Shinnecock County Park. Marine life has flourished along the piers of the old bridge. In 1999, officials from Suffolk County and the Town of Southampton declared the area a "marine park."
SOURCES: "Beaches Rising Again Where Storm Passed," New York Herald-Tribune (12/27/1938); "Restoration and Protection of Fire Island," Long Island State Park Commission (1938); "The Roads Not Taken" by Caryn Eve Murray, Newsday (5/06/2001); Long Island Diving Association; Jeff Bachmann; Russ Weisenbacher.
Ponquogue Causeway and Suffolk CR 32 shields by Ralph Herman. Lightpost by Jeff Saltzman.