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State DOT officials listen to supervisors’ concerns

DOT Region One Program Manager Frank Bonafide and Region One Director Sam Zhou speak to members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors June 17.

DOT Region One Program Manager Frank Bonafide and Region One Director Sam Zhou speak to members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors June 17. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The regional director of the state Department of Transportation put himself on the hot seat in front of members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors June 17.

Sam Zhou, Region 1 director, asked members of the Finance Committee for their concerns, as he was joined by Regional Program Manager Frank Bonafide and Essex County Resident Engineer Steve Clinton.

“We are not going to come here and promise everybody something because there are always going to be more needs than the resources that we have,” Zhou said. “One of the major shifts is that we are into the preservation mode. The vast majority of our capital dollars are going into preserving the current system.”

“Our current goal is to keep the current system in operating condition and safe to traffic,” Bonafide said. “Where is the traffic and where do we serve the most taxpayers is the driving issue. In the last couple years, we have dealt with Route 86 and 22 in Willsboro. We are going to try and deal with Route 73, but you have to keep in mind that there is just not enough funds and we are going to have to pick and choose carefully.”

Zhou said that the state focus has been based on usage of roadways more than condition, which gives the northern region counties a sense that they are receiving less funding than their counterparts closer to Albany.

“I understand the feeling from the rural counties that most of the money goes to the three major counties surrounding the capital region,” he said. “Our guiding principle is that we address the most utilized of roads first, so that tends to be in the capital region. That being said, I can assure that we never ignore issues anywhere. There are needs all over the place, and you are not being ignored. I hope that my being here today proves that.”

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