In regions across the country public leaders are making lists—and checking at least twice—as projects covered by the new infrastructure bill are prioritized. Locally owned construction companies have ideas—and experience— as well, and are gearing up for the action.
Local Firms: We’re Ready!
The national infrastructure package allocates 11.6 billion for highways in New York and another $1.9 billion for bridge projects.Two big projects are aimed at easing congestion in the New York City area: completion of the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River and the East Side Access project. Of course, there is a lot of important work that needs doing throughout New York State, as well. For example, at least $100 million is anticipated for broadband, to build the infrastructure for the approximately 4% of New Yorkers in communities without access to high speed internet service. As the
Niagara Gazette reports, construction companies are geared up for projects they hope will come their way:
A veteran of the New York construction scene, Robert Harlem, president of Oneonta Block in Oneonta and Duke Concrete Products in Queensbury, said he hopes the upstate region gets its fair share of projects funded by the federal jackpot. “I have not heard of any packages coming our way yet, but if they do we are certainly geared up,” Harlem said. “We just put in a brand new ready-mix plant with all the bells and whistles on the South Side of Oneonta. We have carbon-sequestered concrete and we have geothermal heating. So we will be ready when they come…”
In Western New York, Gary Hill of Union Concrete and Construction, said he hopes the funding will address infrastructure needs in small cities such as Lockport and Niagara Falls in a way that can “bring neighborhoods together” and address local transportation needs. “The state has been in preservation mode for about a decade now, and what that means is they just focus on maintaining the system — resurfacing roads, replacing signs, signals, handicap ramps, striping, things of that nature.” Hill said. “That’s because funding has been somewhat slim. It was a good decision then, and no one is knocking it. But now that we have an increase we need to address the needs of locals and really focus on congestion relief and projects that are going to help with economic development.”
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Noting that many highways across New York are showing wear and tear, Rick Geddes, a professor and founding director of Cornell University’s Program in Infrastructure Policy hopes federal infrastructure funding will enable more than repair. As he told the Niagara Gazette: “We have tough winters…We have snow and ice and it wears out.” But rather than just repaving the roads the level of funding will create opportunities to reimagine the configuration of some roadways. Thinking into the future is definitely on the drawing boards. For example, the infrastructure package allocates $175 million over five years for charging networks for electric vehicles across the state.
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