Federal Highway Chief Details Sandy Response


David Winzelberg, Long Island Business News
March 15, 2013

Dozens of Long Island road contracting and labor officials gathered in Woodbury on Friday to hear the head of the Federal Highway Administration outline the government's response to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. 

FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said there were 58 federal highway employees sent to the New York metropolitan area immediately after the storm. New York state received $10 million within 24 hours of Sandy's arrival and another $20 million within a month after. 

Mendez said New York will be receiving $287 million dollars to rebuild roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters, with $250 million specifically for Sandy relief. 

He said nearly $390 million from the recently approved federal disaster relief bill will go to the MTA and PATH systems to reimburse them for the costs associated with Sandy. 

Mendez said that transportation agencies have been studying climate change and its effects on the roads and transit systems to better prepare for future storms. 

"The entire transportation community must continue to work together to build a transportation system that's able to stand up to future threats from climate change and extreme weather," he said. 

Much of the money coming to Long Island will be spent on preventative work on roads such as Ocean Parkway and on commuter rail tracks and equipment. 

Mark Herbst, who heads the Long Island Contractors Association, said it's important that the recent work to repair some 12 miles of Ocean Parkway won't be washed away by the next big storm. "That's the kind of investment that we need," Herbst said, "to protect the roads for the future." Joan McDonald, commissioner of the state's Department of Transportation, said the state is committed to keep the highway dollars flowing. 

"Good investment in transportation leads to economic growth," she said. 

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