City roads are crumbling: report
by Lois Barrett
Jan 19, 2010 | 2395 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Denise Richardson, managing director of The General Contractors Association of New York, and Frank Vozos, an Astoria mechanic who says poor road conditions are damaging vehicles and costing city drivers hundreds of dollars a year in repairs.
Residents of Queens may remember the recent Steinway Street overpass collapse on the Grand Central Parkway that seriously injured one driver, and paralyzed some Astoria businesses.

That was over five years ago, but little in the way of road improvements have come since then, according to a report by the national transportation research organization TRIP, which found that New York City’s roads and bridges are still crumbling.

The report, released at a press conference at Astoria Repair Shop January 14, highlights the state’s projections of an $87 billion transportation funding shortfall from 2010 to 2030 and looks at how poor road conditions, due to aging infrastructure and outmoded design, impact the public and local economies.

With the state legislature set to approve the new state budget for April 1 and deliberations in progress over the inclusion of a capital plan for maintaining and enhancing New York’s transportation network, the data in the report is timely.

To drive home the importance of the report’s findings, State Senator Martin Dilan, chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee, joined spokespersons from TRIP, AAA, and The General Contractors Association - an advocacy organization for heavy construction contractors - at the conference.

The mechanic’s shop setting, with cars being serviced for damages like dented sub-frames and out-of-whack suspension struts, illustrated the toll that driving on sub-standard roads can take on a vehicle and the financial burden that is passed on to car owners.

Astoria Auto Repair’s president and master technician, Frank Vozos, estimated one car’s damage at about $900; approximately 70 percent of that damage came from driving on shoddy roads, he said.

According to the report, 54 percent of major roads in the city are rated poor and driving on roads in need of repair costs each motorist in the New York City area $638 annually in extra vehicle operating costs.

Poor road conditions can lead to car accidents, too. The report says that just one roadway upgrade - the implementation of new traffic signals - reduces the fatal accident rate by 53 percent.

While Governor David Paterson contends that the proposed five-year capital plan - submitted by the state Department of Transportation in October of 2009 - is “unaffordable” given New York’s current fiscal woes, Dilan reaffirmed his stance on the issue.

“We must put the safety of the public first,” said Dilan at the press conference. He said he would not vote for the new state budget on April 1 without some kind of capital plan.
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