Towns and villages to Cuomo: We need money for roads

05/06/2015 8:00 AM |
Southold highway department crews patching potholes on Main Street in Greenport in February 2014, when there wasn't as much work to do. (Credit: Cyndi Murray, file)

Southold highway department crews patching potholes on Main Street in Greenport in February 2014, when there wasn’t as much work to do. (Credit: Cyndi Murray, file)

Elected leaders from across Suffolk are demanding more state funding to help repair roads severely damaged during a cold and snowy winter.

The East End Supervisors and Mayor Association — which includes the supervisors of Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island and the mayor of Greenport — has penned a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting a one-time jump in CHIPS funding, which is federal money that is distributed by the state Department of Transportation to local government for maintenance of local roads and bridges.

Shelter Island supervisor and chairman of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, Jim Dougherty, said the organization is requesting the state double the amount it normally gives to each town in order to fix road infrastructure — specifically potholes that have made travel dangerous.

“Our roads took a brutal beating this winter and now is the time for the state to provide increased financial support, which we know you have available, to help us maintain our infrastructure, a fundamental function for our local government,” Mr. Dougherty wrote in a May 4 letter to the governor.

Mr. Dougherty said Tuesday that Shelter Island road crews had only just begun the process of fixing the roadways, adding that the town hasn’t spent much on repairs as of yet this year.

He estimated that if the town chose to preform patchwork it would cost roughly $100,000. If it chose to repave the roads, it would cost “multiples of that,” he said.

“That is not going to be realistic unless we get financial assistance,” Mr. Dougherty said. “[Last year] we paid peanuts compared to that.”

It is a similar situation in Southold Town where Supervisor Scott Russell said it would be difficult to repair all the roads without the additional CHIPS money.

“We have a decent amount [of money budgeted] to get the ball rolling, but something tells me it’s not going to be enough,” Mr. Russell said Monday.

Southold Town is expecting to receive roughly $420,000 in CHIPS this year. But, Mr. Russell said it needs the requested $840,000 in aid to fix the damage caused by the extreme weather.

So far, the town has paid out roughly $450,000 toward such repairs. And on Tuesday, the Town Board approved a resolution to transfer another $142,000 in CHIPS money left over from last year’s budget to fund this year’s roadwork.

East Enders aren’t the only ones feeling the pain of potholes.

In western Suffolk County, state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R, I, C-East Northport) also wrote a letter to Mr. Cuomo requesting a one-time doubling of CHIPS funds, an estimated $17.5 million in all, be disturbed to all ten Suffolk County towns.

In the April 28 letter, Mr. Raia called the funding an “important infrastructure and public safety need.”

“The towns that reside in Suffolk County have all exceeded their municipality budgets allotted for snow removal and have been faced with the troubling ultimatum of choosing how to priorities their road repairs with insufficient funds,” Mr. Raia stated.

The timeline on when, or if, the governor will responded to requests is unclear. A call to his office was not returned.

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