October 23, 2018

resiliency.pngLICA’S CALL FOR RESILIENCY HEARD BY GOVERNOR

Earlier this month, LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst gave testimony advocating for the needs of Long Island infrastructure, at one of eight regional public hearings being hosted by the Assembly Minority Task Force on Critical Infrastructure and Transportation. The task force is comprised of Assemblymen Dave McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick), Michael Montesano (R,C,Ref-Glen Head), Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) and Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,Ref-Mahopac), who were directed by Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb to develop solutions to address the needs of the state’s aging roads, bridges and water/sewer infrastructure, stressing the importance of long-term capital planning and regional needs assessments. Each of the Assemblymen spoke briefly about the importance of maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure (click here to read their related press release), followed by other public speakers who came to testify.

After hearing from TOB Public Works Commissioner Rich Lenz, it was Marc Herbst’s opportunity to present his testimony. Herbst outlined several issues which severely impact our infrastructure here on Long Island. First, he noted that nearly 20% of all vehicles registered in NYS are from Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This directly relates to the extensive traffic and congestion problems we face. To help illustrate, Herbst displayed a NYS DOT map which showed severe congestion throughout the state. Most of Long Island was a solid sea of red “choke points,” compared to only a handful of other areas which were widely disbursed throughout the rest of the state.

Long Island weather also plays a role. Herbst noted LI’s unique freeze/thaw weather pattern which degrades infrastructure more quickly than those areas that simply have one long, steady cold season. Next he spoke of hurricanes and devastating storms like Sandy, which forced Long Island to focus on resiliency. As part of that discussion, Herbst asked the task force to urge the state to follow up and fund recommendations to increase resiliency in 22 communities that were hardest hit during Sandy and studied as part of the Governor’s “NY Rising” reconstruction program. Just as we were preparing this egram, the Governor announced that he was allocating more than $20 million to fund some of the projects outlined in the community reports which Herbst highlighted. We believe LICA’s thoughtful, comprehensive testimony to the Assembly Task Force played a role in making this happen. You can read the Governor’s press release here.

In closing, Herbst also addressed water quality issues and the need to expand and invest in new sewer and septic systems in order to reduce the dangerous levels of nitrogen that are harming our waters. And finally, Herbst provided a list of 10 specific major infrastructure projects that would significantly improve our regions infrastructure, including the full reconstruction of Route 347, widening of select parkways and fixing the Oakdale Merge among others. 

Additional speakers representing village municipalities, school districts and first responders also spoke to express their concerns about related infrastructure issues.

Before the meeting ended, TOB Supervisor Joe Saladino addressed the task force saying that it would be helpful if CHIPS funding could be used to purchase maintenance equipment such as vacuum trucks which are needed to alleviate flooding in areas where drainage is a problem during heavy rainfalls and severe winter storms. He also thanked everyone who came out to speak about this important issue, specifically noting LICA’s participation and remarking on Herbst’s dedicated and continued advocacy efforts, referring to him as the “Czar of Long Island Infrastructure.”

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