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Van Wyck Construction Project 21 Months Behind Schedule, $9 Million Over Budget

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The long-delayed construction on the Van Wyck Expressway is giving headaches to hundreds of thousands of drivers.

CBS2's Brian Conybeare reports that after five-and-a-half years, drivers have had enough.

"Hurry up and fix it," Sharon G. of Corona, Queens, told CBS2. "I mean, come one, it's taking too long."

Corona added that she tries to avoid the area due to the traffic shifts, narrow lanes and confusing signs.

The State Department of Transportation is spending nearly $300 million to replace six decaying overpasses and rehab four more, while widening the Van Wyck to improve traffic flow. The state admits one of the projects – going on since 2010 – is now 21 months behind schedule and more than $9 million over budget.

Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Holmes told CBS2 that the reason it's taking so long is because it's a complicated project that's broken into three contracts.

"The initial contract was awarded later than anticipated. There were complications due to Superstorm Sandy as well as creating a challenging construction schedule designed to lessen the impact on all users," Holmes said.

One of the things that makes this such a nightmare is that it's not just the Van Wyck – the Jackie Robinson Parkway, Grand Central Parkway and Union Turnpike all meet at the Kew Gardens Interchange as 500,000 vehicles try to squeeze through here every day.

"It's a little bit of congestion, but in the long run it's gonna be worth it," Waldo Espinoza of Richmond Hill, Queens, told CBS2.

Phase one should be done by the end of the year. The Transportation Department says phase two of that project is slightly ahead of schedule and could wind up under the budget. Phase three won't start until this summer.

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