Future of N.Y. road repairs looks bleak

ELIZABETHTOWN - The funds available for maintaining good roads and bridges throughout New York State are not enough to keep pace with needed repairs, officials from the state Department of Transportation told Essex County supervisors Aug. 31.

NYSDOT Region 1 Director Mary Ivey and regional planning and program manager Robert Hansen gave a presentation to supervisors at their Ways and Means committee meeting, outlining the dire situation facing New York roadways through the next five years.

According to Hansen, keeping bridges in good condition has been a major priority in Region 1, which stretches from Essex County southward to Greene and Columbia counties. Over a quarter of bridges in the region are falling into poor condition, however, and will require extensive repairs by 2013.

Pavement, too, is an issue he said, noting that an estimated $103 million will be required just to fund planned resurfacing on state highways in Region 1.

"It's not just in New York," Hansen said. "The whole country needs to have a serious discussion about what its going to do with its transportation infrastructure."

Hansen referred to reports from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that estimate an $80 billion shortfall for transportation projects over the next 20 years.

"Local governments need to have a long-term plan," he said.

Afterward, Hansen fielded questions from supervisors, many of whom expressed concerns for projects in their own backyard.

Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow was among many who called for the county to be transferred to Region 7, which stretches from Jefferson to Clinton County. He suggested that competition with other projects in the Capital Region caused some road projects in Essex County to be ignored.

"If we could get out of Region 1 and get into Region 7, I think we'd be better off," he said.

Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas agreed, noting a project that recently commenced in the neighboring town of Black Brook, in Clinton County, had been promised by the previous Region 1 director to include the Jay side of AuSable Forks.

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