ARDSLEY – Senator David Carlucci (D, Nanuet) and Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti (D, Westchester) are sponsoring legislation that could make New York State “liable for pothole damages on state roads year-round.”
Their bill would replace the current law which only holds the state government accountable for potholes reported between May 15th and November 15th, forcing municipalities to bear the cost of repairing state roads during winter months. Their proposal has passed both houses of the state legislature and is awaiting the approval of Governor Cuomo.
“The state is impeding economic development!” said Abinanti during a media event on Sunday, where he was joined by Carlucci and Town of Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner. Abinanti, who represents Greenburgh, argued that by refusing to fix potholes on major state roads, the government is in effect creating a substantial barrier to trade.
“It cost $700 on average to repair a vehicle (that’s has been damaged by a pothole), said Abinanti, quoting a study conducted by the town government. He claims that that potential expense is an active deterrent to shoppers who avoid the area which is notorious for bad roads.
Members of the Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club of New York City and the Westchester Cycle Club joined Abinanti in calling for a response to the “growing health and safety issue,” of unrepaired roads, urging the state “to take responsibility.” Members of both clubs said they have “totaled” vehicles because of potholes on state roads and that they expect the number of motorcycle riders and bicyclists to increase exponentially in the near future.
New York’s current method of addressing the problem “is penny wise and pound foolish” in the words of Supervisor Finer, who said that the state’s delayed response is exacerbating the issue. By “procrastinating” on fixing roads the state is allowing conditions to further deteriorate; his office estimates that it will cost $37 million to fix Greenburgh’s roads, and that some of them “are beyond repavement.”
The state “is holding its cities and municipalities to another slandered” said Carlucci, who observed that local governments are tasked with maintaining their own roads year-round. The senator said New York’s current approach is based on an “outdated” system wherein the state would purchase asphalt necessary for repairs from private plants that would shut down in the winter. As most governments now own and operate the equipment needed to make and pour asphalt, shutting state repairs down during winter months has long been unnecessary.
Feiner has suggested creating a reimbursement system, wherein local municipalities would still fix state roads but receive state funding to do so. He suggested that this method would be the fastest and most cost-effective option for the town.