Infrastructure Projects for Rivertowns Need to Move Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)

Infrastructure Projects for Westchester’s Rivertowns Need to Move Forward

White Plains, NY – Two members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL)—MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) and BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers)—called on County Executive Rob Astorino today to quickly move forward on important infrastructure projects, including bridge and road repairs, slated for the county’s municipalities along the Hudson River.

At question are a number of capital projects—big and small, some new and others with funding approved back in 2009—aimed at providing repairs and upgrades to sewage and stormwater facilities, as well as to bridges, roadways and recreation areas in Yonkers, Hastings-on Hudson, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and Irvington. The projects have been approved by the BOL, and in some cases the design for the projects has been completed but otherwise the projects have not advanced very far or even commenced yet.

The lack of progress on the Warburton Avenue Bridge in Hastings-on-Hudson presents cause for concern, said Shimsky. The bridge, rated a 4.5 on the New York State Department of Transportation’s 1-7 scale, is in need of serious repair. Work was supposed to begin in 2012, and then was moved to spring 2013. Now, with spring 2013 just a week away, design is not yet 100% complete, preconstruction meetings have not been scheduled, and the construction contractor has not been selected.

“This bridge has structural problems that need addressing now, before more extensive work is required because of the passage of time and further neglect,” noted Shimsky. “We don’t want the Warburton Avenue Bridge to turn into a second Ashford Avenue Bridge”—referring to the ongoing project to rebuild the span connecting Dobbs Ferry and Ardsley at an estimated cost of $23 million. “And safety issues with the bridge on Warburton Avenue, including the lack of a suicide prevention screen, as well as low railings and crumbling sidewalks, put people on the bridge and those underneath it at risk.”

The history of the Ashford Avenue Bridge suggests a pattern of neglect with important capital projects, Shimsky pointed out. After putting this bridge repair project on hold after taking office in 2010, the Astorino Administration moved the construction start date back to 2015. Since June 22, 2012, when chunks of concrete fell on the New York State Thruway, and damaged six cars (but thankfully causing no injuries), the County has been forced to spend over a million dollars on temporary repairs and pier stabilization. Meanwhile, the bridge must hold together for two more years before the main repair project can begin.

“The taxpayers must risk enduring extensive emergency closures of one of the most important traffic arteries in the Rivertowns, and the expenditure of more taxpayer dollars for temporary fixes, if the Ashford Avenue bridge is further weakened by hard winters and regular use before construction takes place,” said Shimsky.

In 2011, the BOL added over $5 million to the 2012 Capital Projects Budget for the Ardsley Road and Warburton Road projects. But, as has been true in subsequent years since Astorino was elected County Executive, only a small amount of the money, or none of it, has been spent. Likewise, other projects from 2011—water main repair in Tarrytown, pump station rehabilitation, bulkhead reconditioning and a roof replacement for a water treatment plant, all in Yonkers—are in question because of a lack of information.

Also, golf cart path rehabilitation at Sprain Lake Golf Course and other general infrastructure repairs at parks along the Hudson, the funding approved last summer, have not been advanced at all.

“Infrastructure is much more than safety and jobs—it’s economic development,” said Jenkins. “Businesses cannot function, and people cannot get to work, without roads and bridges. So, it’s hard to justify such slow action on infrastructure repair and replacement projects, no matter what. The Administration needs to explain why so many of these approved projects are moving at a snail’s pace—projects that will add over 11,000 much needed jobs to Westchester.”

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Bazzo 03/15/13

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